Town hall meeting discusses state budget negotiations

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  • State Rep. Carol Ammons and State Sen. Scott Bennett discussed Illinois budget proposals with Champaign-Urbana residents at a town hall meeting on Thursday, July 9.

  • State Rep. Carol Ammons and State Sen. Scott Bennett discussed Illinois budget proposals with Champaign-Urbana residents at a town hall meeting on Thursday, July 9.

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By Ben Lash

In response to current negotiations for a state budget, State Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, and State Sen. Scott Bennett, D-Champaign, held a town hall meeting on Thursday, where local residents could voice their concerns.

The meeting, which was held at Carpenter’s Local 243 Union Hall in Champaign, followed several area demonstrations and protests about Gov. Rauner’s proposal to make cuts in the state budget, including a prayer vigil outside the Unemployment Office in Champaign on Tuesday, June 30.

“Where we go from here is the real question,” Bennett said. “Democrats in both the House and the Senate had very little choice. We could either leave with no budget at all, or we could put together a budget based on our priorities.”

Bennett said there have been efforts to pass a bill that provides a month-long budget for necessities in Illinois, such as prisons, state police, National Guard and other services. With these services assured, the state government can then further negotiations about other services’ involvement in the budget.

“What we didn’t want to happen was the shutdown of government over the next 30 days,” Ammons said, “leaving seniors and people with disabilities and needs to childcare without resources.”

Because many of the cuts could affect childcare and Medicaid, several audience members expressed feelings of fear and frustration. But Ammons and Bennett said they were working hard to ensure the security of childcare and medical services in the new state budget.

“The government’s job is to provide services for its residents,” Ammons said. “That is our job. What we see happening is an attempt to turn Illinois into a corporation that trims the fat where they suggest that fat is. … We decided we cannot allow children to be without childcare and parents to be out of work.”

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