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Rockford Democrats' Message To Springfield: Program Cuts Will Cost More In The End

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Rachel Scaman
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WNIJ
Senator Steve Stadelman and Representative Litesa Wallace thank speakers for sharing their stories.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner continues to meet with legislative leaders to try to hammer out a state budget before the end of the month. Meanwhile, state lawmakers continue to meet with constituents who will be most affected by budget cuts.

Rockford Democrats gathered a crowd of people at a Milestone, Inc. facility north of Rockford. Their causes ranged from breast cancer screenings to home health care assistance.

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Credit Rachel Scaman / WNIJ
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WNIJ
YWCA Executive Director Kris Kieper

  Kris Kieper heads the YWCA in Rockford. She says cuts to the Childcare Assistance Program will mean some parents will have to quit their jobs: then the state loses those income taxes, the families will need more state aid, small child care providers will go under, and “thousands of children will lose access to quality early learning environments and lose the positive influence of a working parent as a role model.”

Christine Oakes says her family will be devastated by cuts to state programs that help children with autism. Oakes says it’s too easy for people to dismiss her two children as “incurable.”

But they can develop. They can climb over a mountain they won’t go back from. And if I didn’t have Easter Seals to help me with that, I don’t know where I would be. And I don’t know where my kids would be.

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Credit Rachel Scaman / WNIJ
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WNIJ
Christine Oakes speaks on behalf of her family.

  Alice Johnson represented the Illinois Nurses Association at the event. She says there’s a misconception that eliminating people from Medicaid programs will make those costs disappear. She says people will have to turn to expensive emergency room visits instead. Johnson says it’s not just basic health care that will be affected: she says cuts will reduce funding for mental health services, domestic violence shelters, rape victims, dialysis, and dental care for adults.

The event was organized by State Representative Litesa Wallace and State Senator Steve Stadelman. The Rockford Democrats are sending the message to the state’s leadership that only the most at-risk people are being hurt by proposed program cuts. Both Stadelman and Wallace say they do not support any specific revenue increases…yet…and are waiting to see what the state’s leaders propose. 

Susan is an award-winning reporter/writer at her favorite radio station. She's also WNIJ's Perspectives editor, Under Rocks contributor, and local host of All Things Considered.
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