From the Office of the Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton
Over the course of nine months, Governor Pritzker and I have been hard at work to improve the lives of our Illinois veterans and their loved ones. From securing a $15 an hour minimum wage for working families in our state, ensuring there’s a balanced budget that funds services that our veterans and their loved ones depend on, to legalizing adult use of cannabis with the most equity-centric legislation in the country, and passing a capital plan that will invest in our infrastructure while creating thousands of jobs, and the establishment of the Justice, Equity and Opportunity Initiative (JEO) which is housed in my office.
The JEO will ensure that Illinois moves forward with a keener focus throughout state government about how a lack of opportunity and inequities can hurt families, and too often, are at the root of how people, including our veterans, enter the pipeline to our justice system.
We have learned that we cannot have real justice without addressing equity and opportunity. And, we can no longer afford to speak of justice solely in terms of policing and jails and prisons, but must talk about affordable housing, access to health care, and barriers to employment and a quality education.
There’s one more important way for us to secure maximum resources to our communities. That is by making sure that our communities participate in the 2020 Census. Governor Pritzker and I want to make sure that everyone in our state has fair and equal access to be counted as part of the 2020 census.
The census can determine how much money for critical services is distributed to communities in need. Nearly 42 percent of our state’s Black residents, 33 percent of our Latinx residents and 20 percent of children under the age of five live in hard-to-count communities. It is imperative and so critically important to our state that hard-to-count communities are reached. Failure to do so could be devastating for our communities in particular, but also devastating for our entire state.
For example, Illinois could lose $120 million in funding every year for missing just one percent of the population. That amounts to $1.2 billion dollars lost in over a decade. This is critical!
Lastly, as the chair of the Illinois Council on Women and Girls, the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council, the Military Economic Development Council, the Illinois Rivers Coordinating Council and the Restore, Renew and Reinvest board – I am proud to serve our veterans and their loved ones in all the different ways that our state interacts with them. From those that live in our rural communities, to those living and working in communities near military bases, Governor Pritzker and I are hard at work for you.