By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader
Gov. Bruce Rauner has made history having blocked passage of a balanced budget in the last 19-months an act Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-8th) says is caused by a “political war” between the Democrats and the Republicans with Blacks caught in the crossfires.
“It’s been 19-months since we’ve had a budget because we have a political war going on in Springfield. It’s a war between philosophies…between the Democrats vs. Republicans,” Ford told the Chicago Crusader.
“The problem we have is that we have a very powerful governor who controls the Republican party….”
When asked how can this impasse end especially since the state comptroller has withheld the legislators pay since last June and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is asking a judge to stop paying state workers, Ford simply said party unity. “A solution to end the budget crisis is to make sure we do a simple budget with both parties agreeing that it is important to fulfill our obligations as members of the General Assembly by voting on a budget that the governor presents.
“We are hoping that the governor will present a balanced budget that we can vote on,” said Ford who explained they passed several budgets but Rauner vetoed them with no solution. “He said they were not balanced…. ”
After 19-months with no budget, Ford said, “The major problem we are about to face is that children in daycare may be without childcare if there is a government shutdown.
“And if that happens, the business community will suffer because parents will not be able to go to work. The universities will lose enrollment because parents will not be able to go to school. It will damage families and the state,” Ford said.
“Right now, we are in jeopardy of losing child care in Illinois because if there is no budget and there is a government shutdown, child care will not be funded,” he stated.
Referring to Madigan who has filed a lawsuit preventing pay to state works during the budget impasse, Ford said, “If that happens, state workers will be off. There will be no operations on state government. Childcare and senior services would be off…. It would be devastating,” Ford stated.
When asked about the legislators not being paid since last June, Ford said they still travel to Springfield and pay for their lodging without the benefit of a paycheck. “We have been paying agencies without a balanced budget,” he said.
Asked about the status of Madigan’s lawsuit, Ford said they should know by February 28th.
Asked who is to blame for this crisis, Ford said, “I would think that each of us is to blame for this, but we passed budgets as Democrats but the Republicans are not willing to cooperate unless we cooperate with them.”
Explaining, Ford said to pass a budget and get it signed by Rauner the Democrats would have to agree to term limits and making it difficult for every day working families to sue their employers if they get hurt on the job.
“Those are the things the Republicans want to do,” said Rep. Ford. “They want to turn Illinois into a red state. Right now, it is a Democratic blue state.
Referring to a Republican majority government, Ford said, “It’s clear that it would hurt everyday working and struggling families. The Republicans are clearly hurting the Democrats across the State.”
He said 67 percent of higher education has been cut. “The governor cut childcare to thousands of families when he reduced the eligibility level from 185 to 162 at the third party level. His policies are clearly harmful to working families and those seeking work.”
Overall, Ford described the fiscal crises as unprecedented. “In the 200 years we’ve been a state, we’ve never had this problem. No other state in the union has this problem so Illinois is the worse.
“I think these type of problems affect Black communities more than any community because we have the largest unemployment in the state and our numbers are very large in needing services. Our homeless population is the largest. Individuals who need health insurance are the highest. These things are not being paid. It hurts the Black community.
Ford referred to the Black banks as an example of the economic ailments of the Black community especially Seaway, which recently was seized by the state and federal government. “You can’t sustain the banking system in the community because of the unemployment and the struggles in the community,” Ford explained.