CHICAGO – Individuals affected by the governor’s most recent cuts to the state’s social services had the opportunity to testify on the life-changing impact Rauner’s cuts will have at the Appropriations – Human Services committee hearing on Wednesday.
“For three long years, people did not know whether or not they were going to be able to receive life-saving care, which is why Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature came together, despite the governor’s refusal to negotiate, to pass a balanced budget and make sure that these services would continue to receive funding,” said state Rep. Greg Harris, chair of the House Appropriations-Human Services Committee. “As the governor rides around on a motorcycle recording campaign commercials, he has decided that these people do not need to get the help that they need to survive. It is our job as elected officials to help people when they need it, and the governor is clearly demonstrating that he does not understand that.”
Despite the vitality of the state’s social services, the governor announced a series of cuts to programs that the state’s most vulnerable citizens rely upon. It is because of his cuts that people suffering with HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, autism, substance abuse and many other severe illnesses will not be able to receive the care that they need to survive. Children will be unable to attend afterschool programs that help them avoid being victims of gang violence, and immigrants who have made Illinois their home will not have resources they need to settle into the state.
“It is because of the services I received that I am in a better space mentally, physically and spiritually, and have been able to dedicate my life to helping others who are experiencing difficult times as result of HIV/AIDS,” said Arick Buckles, volunteer advocate for the Illinois Alliance for Sound AIDS Policy (IL ASAP) “But as a result of the governors cuts to HIV prevention and services it will be harder to test and treat those who are most at risk for contracting HIV. I urge the governor to restore the funding to HIV and AIDS services so that Illinoisans who are experiencing HIV/AIDS and most at risk populations will have the much needed systems of support in place.”
In July, Harris led the negotiations that resulted in the passage of the bipartisan, balanced budget that ended the governor’s three-year budget crisis. Due to his leadership, social services across the state have been able to once again assist the state’s most vulnerable citizens.
“The Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago has given me the support and comfort to know I am not alone,” said Eva Wadzinski, a service recipient and volunteer at the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago. “The foundation helps me and my friends express our anger, loss, and emotions when dealing with epilepsy, and case managers are always there to work through the spider web of healthcare. I make the foundation a priority, sometimes even more than my schoolwork, because this is a place where you can be yourself, and not feel like an outcast.”