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Senators, SEIU: Rauner's first year hurts poorest, most vulnerable (VIDEO)

seiu pr martinezAs Gov. Bruce Rauner celebrates his first year in office, he should reflect on how he has failed to live up to his promise of ensuring Illinois is a compassionate and competitive state, a group of Democratic state senators and human service providers urged Wednesday.

Flanked by providers who, along with their clients, bear the brunt of Gov. Rauner’s budget impasse with the General Assembly, state senators Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) and Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) called on the governor to stop holding the state’s poorest and most vulnerable residents hostage in pursuit of an anti-family, anti-worker agenda that lacks legislative support.

Biss, chairman of the Senate’s Human Services Committee, urged Gov. Rauner to use his second year in office to focus on the areas where he can find agreement – rather than disagreement – with the General Assembly.

“Those areas are not going to be about stripping rights from workers or about pushing down wages for most middle-class families. Those areas are going to be about passing balanced budgets, achieving fiscal responsibility and achieving fiscal sustainability,” Biss said.

“If (the governor) wants to work on those areas he will find a willing partner in the General Assembly – willing partners across both the House and Senate Democratic caucuses eager to engage in that work. And the people of Illinois, the government of Illinois, the not-for-profits of Illinois, the service recipients of Illinois, the service providers of Illinois and the businesses of Illinois will all profit.”

Martinez said she has a 96-year-old uncle who lives at home with the help of a home care service that hasn’t been paid as a result of the state budget impasse. She said she doesn’t understand Gov. Rauner’s definition of compassionate.

“If the governor came in saying Illinois needs to be more compassionate and competitive, then he needs to live up to his words and be truly compassionate when it comes to the most vulnerable,” she said.

Collins noted that Illinois’ poorest residents are bearing the pain of Gov. Rauner’s strategy, while corporations and the wealthy feel little impact.

“He says he wants to build a more compassionate Illinois, yet he has fought to keep low-income senior citizens and people with disabilities from receiving home health care services they need to stay in their homes,” Collins said. “Gov. Rauner and his wealthy allies may be doing fine after this year lost to stubborn political grandstanding, but ordinary Illinoisans are not. They cannot afford another year of inaction and hostage-taking.”

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