SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – As a part of her continued efforts to demand fiscal responsibility from Springfield politicians, state Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, has pledged to donate the annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) lawmakers will receive for the next fiscal year to the Cougar Cupboard food pantry and I Support the Girls – Edwardsville to show support for community organizations that help residents in need.
“It is unconscionable that politicians could consider accepting a pay raise while so many Illinoisans are struggling to make ends meet due to the COVID-19 crisis,” said Stuart. “I have continually fought against gold-plated perks for politicians and fought for legislation to block lawmaker pay if a balanced state budget was not passed.”
During the last General Assembly, with overwhelming bipartisan support, Stuart passed legislation to freeze lawmaker reimbursement rates and block an automatic cost of living adjustment from going into effect in the upcoming fiscal year. In 2017, Stuart passed similar legislation, which was signed into law.
“While a cost of living adjustment was included in the budget plan recently passed by lawmakers, I am continuing my commitment to promote fiscal responsibility and stand up for our families, so I will be donating these funds to two great organizations here in the Metro East that support residents in need – the Cougar Cupboard and I Support the Girls,” continued Stuart.”
Stuart recently co-hosted a virtual food drive for the Cougar Cupboard, which is fully supported by donations and has continually prepared emergency boxes for students, staff and faculty facing hardship during the COVID-19 health crisis. Stuart will be donating a portion of her COLA to the Cougar Cupboard to help alleviate the burden they’ve felt due to a spike in demand.
“Many students of SIUe are experiencing food insecurity because of uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, due to this we have been faced with an increase in need that heavily overloaded our pantry supply,” said Carolyn Compton, Assistant Director for Community Engagement, who oversees the Cougar Cupboard, SIUE’s on-campus food pantry. “The Cougar Cupboard thanks Rep. Stuart for her continued support of our campus and food pantry, and her work for families in the Metro East, many of whom are tied to SIUe.”
Stuart has also been an outspoken advocate for organizations like I Support the Girls – Edwardsville, which works to increase access to period products for women in need. Stuart recently introduced House Bill 3991, which would require public universities and community colleges throughout the state to provide free feminine hygiene products in the bathrooms of their public buildings, and passed bipartisan legislation to require homeless shelters to provide period products free of charge.
“Our organization would like to thank Rep. Stuart for her continued advocacy and support of I Support the Girls, and her work to pass commonsense legislation to address period poverty in Illinois,” said Dr. Alicia Alexander, Affiliate Director of I Support the Girls – Edwardsville. “Her donation is just one more way that she is showing her dedication to our efforts and support for women and girls in need throughout our region.”