Chicago Progressive Candidates Prepare Strong Response in Anticipation of Governor Rauner’s Budget Address

Residents Demand Progressive Revenue Solutions that Force Rich to Pay Fair Share; Rally to be Held Thursday, February 19

CHICAGO—(ENEWSPF)—February 17, 2015. In tomorrow’s budget address, Governor Rauner is likely to announce massive cuts to childcare programs, Medicaid, and other community services that are vital for working families. As our communities brace themselves for more cuts, Governor Rauner refuses to consider real revenue solutions, like a progressive income tax or millionaire’s tax, that would force his billionaire donors to do their fair share to help fix the state’s fiscal problems.

Grassroots Illinois Action, an independent political organization made up of students, parents, retirees and community members, has endorsed Jesus “Chuy” Garcia for Mayor, and 23 neighborhood leaders running for aldermanic seats across the city, because we’re tired of elected officials who close public schools and clinics, slash funding for libraries and other services, and sell off our city to large downtown TIF recipients, big banks and corporate low-wage employers. The austerity policies proposed by Governor Rauner continue the same corporate agenda Chicago has seen under Mayor Emanuel, and community leaders see the vital need for independent and progressive city and state leaders who aren’t afraid to stand up to banks and demand the real revenue solutions our neighborhoods deserve.

“I want to warn Governor Rauner before his big speech tomorrow to remember what happened the last time a big money politician took aim at the working people of this state. His friend, Rahm Emanuel, provoked the first teachers strike in a generation, and the working people of this city fought back. We joined with the teachers; we marched and we won. I sincerely hope Mayor Emanuel will share that experience with his friend the next time they share a glass of overpriced wine,” said Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, mayoral candidate.

“Working families and immigrant communities in West Englewood, Back of the Yards, Gage Park and Brighton Park depend on public services to survive,” said Rafael Yañez, a police officer and 15th Ward aldermanic candidate endorsed by Grassroots Illinois Action. “As the Executive Director of U.N.I.O.N. Impact Center, an organization that offers job readiness, skills building, and community involvement services to children in our neighborhoods, I know first-hand how important these services are to equip at-risk youth with the skills, tools and values needed to succeed in life. Under Rauner, youth and childcare services across the state have already faced drastic shortages in funding. We need committed leadership that works to expand these vital services, not slash them.”

“In my Humboldt Park community, housing counseling agencies already struggle to help an increasing number of working Latino families find quality, affordable housing,” said Juanita Irizarry, 26th Ward aldermanic candidate endorsed by Grassroots Illinois Action. “I’m running for Alderman precisely because we need leadership that recognizes how important agencies like these are to build healthy, strong communities. Governor Rauner’s cuts fly in the face of what our neighborhoods need and deserve.”

“As a working mother and former resident of public housing, I know firsthand how important public services are to keep a roof over families’ heads, provide children a quality education and strengthen the fabric communities need to thrive,” said Zerlina Smith, 29th Ward aldermanic candidate endorsed by Grassroots Illinois Action. “My neighborhood of Austin has already seen serious disinvestment, through the withdrawal of resources from non-profit institutions, public services and more. Enough is enough. If Governor Rauner wants to balance the state budget he should be asking rich corporations to pay- not working families in Austin.”

“As a Chicago Public Schools teacher, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen elected officials use a budget ‘crisis’ to announce huge cuts to public services, while leaving massive corporate profits and the wealth of the richest 1% untouched,”  said Tara Stamps, 37th Ward aldermanic candidate endorsed by Grassroots Illinois Action. “Governor Rauner and Mayor Emanuel are cut from the same cloth, and the same rich downtown donors fund their campaigns. We need real leaders who can stand up to the banks and CEOs, and give our communities the services they need.”

On Thursday, February 19, Grassroots Illinois Action will march downtown with labor and community allies to demand progressive revenue solutions, like a financial transactions tax, millionaire’s tax and renegotiation of toxic swap deals, that will make the state’s wealthiest bankers and CEOs, not working families, do more to fix Illinois’s revenue problems. The rally will begin at 11 a.m. at the Chicago Temple First United Methodist Church, 77 W. Washington and at noon at the Thompson Center in Chicago.

“Just as Mayor Emanuel closed 50 schools but refuses to ask the banks to renegotiate toxic swap deals, Governor Rauner wants to cut childcare and Medicaid services, but refuses to ask his Wall Street friends to pay a tiny tax on financial transactions,” said Amisha Patel, Executive Director of Grassroots Illinois Action. “The day after the Governor’s budget address, community members will gather to share how Rauner’s cuts will hurt the job training, Medicaid, and childcare services they depend upon, and to learn about real revenue solutions. We will march at the Thompson Center to demand that the rich, not working families, pay for our elected officials’ decades-long mismanagement of pension funding and at Bank of America demanding that bankers renegotiate swap deals with the state that cost Illinois tens of millions of dollars.”

Grassroots Illinois Action is setting out to unite working families in an effort to build real independent political power in and for our communities. We can build the power to elect Progressive champions who will fight for our communities and defeat those who would close schools, cut good jobs, slash human services, and dismantle affordable housing. We can change the political landscape and shift our city and state’s priorities. Together we can pursue a vision that values all of our residents, all of our neighborhoods.