- Published: Monday, June 15, 2015 02:36 PM
DECATUR — Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and Representative Sue Scherer (D-Decatur) joined a broad group of Decatur community leaders and people who will be hurt by Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget plans during a press conference Monday.
“Governor Rauner has spent a lot of time in Decatur making claims that his proposals and plans will help the city and its people. The fact is, there is example after example of how his cuts hurt middle-and working-class families, seniors and the community as a whole,” Manar said.
“With any decision made in the Capitol, the focus must be kept on the families whose lives and futures will be impacted,” said Scherer. “I spend time listening to families individually every week, and this is an opportunity to hear directly from the people whose health, housing, child care, education and livelihoods are at stake with the budget.”
Rauner announced his plan to cut funding and stop accepting children into the state program that helps cover the costs of day care for working mothers starting July 1. His plan would hike copays and put children on a waiting list for the Child Care Assistance Program. Without this program, many mothers would be forced out of work.
Area hospitals and nursing homes are facing layoffs, increased cost to patients and reduction of services as a result of the governor’s proposed $1.5 billion cut to Medicaid services. Both Scherer and Manar voted against those cuts and voted to maintain Medicaid rates for hospitals and nursing homes.
“Senator Manar and Representative Scherer gave nursing home communities a lifeline when they voted for Senate Bill 788 because we don’t see how we can sustain quality services under the Governor’s proposed budget,” Kim Jordan, administrator of McKinley Court Care Centre said. “We are in limbo until the bill is signed into law.”
Decatur hospitals and nursing homes have estimated they would need to layoff nearly 150 employees. Cuts to nursing homes would a represent $2.5 million loss to the area’s economy and hospital cuts alone would potentially eliminate $10.5 million of economic activity in the region.
If Rauner does not approve a state spending plan by July 1, a state shutdown could further jeopardize access to health care for the children, seniors and families in Decatur and other communities.
Rauner refused to approve an education budget that will allow schools to open in August and targets additional state money for school districts with high levels of need. That legislation increases state funding for Decatur public schools by $3.8 million.
The education budget would also fund Advanced Placement courses, agriculture education programs and parent mentoring courses, all of which would have been eliminated under Rauner’s proposed budget.
Monday’s press conference was held at the Decatur-Macon County Senior Center, which is circulating petitions to restore low-income energy assistance. Rauner plans on suspending this state program that helps lower energy bills for about 400,000 seniors and low-income households.
“Decatur faces a lot of challenges. We stand with the people who work to overcome those challenges every day, and the state should stand with them as well,” Manar said.
“It’s time to step away from heated rhetoric and look at the impact of rash budgetary decisions that will hurt middle-class families,” said Scherer. “I want to work with all interested and affected parties to ensure that budget decisions are made carefully, while looking at the long-term impact, what waste we can safely cut, and what vital services we must preserve. The voices of area moms, senior citizens, nurses, and so many others cannot be overlooked in any part of this debate.”
Community members at the press conference included:
• Dennis Toohill | Heritage Health
• Kim Jordan | McKinley Court Care Center
• Sister Ritamary Brown | St. Mary’s Hospital
• Suzanne Kreps | President of the Decatur Education Association
• Sherri Perkins | Decatur School Board President
• Faith Vaught | Retired Teacher
• Alida Graham | Decatur School Board Member, Retired Teacher
• Jim Barr | Retired Teacher
• Tammy Fuller | Decatur Black Chamber of Commerce
• Staceye Horvet | LIHEAP customer
• Leah Murbarger | LIHEAP customer
• Nicole Turner | LIHEAP customer
• Vickie Michael | LIHEAP customer
• Leslie Stanberry | Macon County Senior Center
• Diane Drew | Executive Director, Community Home Environmental Learning Project, Inc.
• Cynthia Cunningham | Illinois Adult Day Service Association/ IL Assoc. Of Community Care Program
• Lisa Stanley | Decatur Township Supervisor
• Mike Smith | Decatur Township Trustee
• Ada Owens | Decatur Town Clerk
• Verzell Taylor | Macon County Board
• Tim Dudley | Macon County Board
• Andrew Banks | Church of God in Christ, Urban Initiatives
• Overseer Thomas Walker | Main Street Church of the Living God
• Melody Walker | Main Street Church of the Living God
• Wanye Dunning | Faith Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church