Town hall meeting discusses state budget negotiations

By Ben Lash

In response to currentnegotiations for a state budget, StateRep.Carol Ammons, D-Urbana,and StateSen. Scott Bennett, D-Champaign, held a town hall meeting on Thursday, wherelocal residentscould voice their concerns.

The meeting, which was held atCarpenter’s Local 243 Union Hall in Champaign, followedseveral areademonstrations and protests aboutGov. Rauner’s proposal to makecuts 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 topass a bill that provides a month-long budget for necessities in Illinois, such asprisons, 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.”

Becausemany of the cuts couldaffectchildcare and Medicaid, several audience membersexpressed feelings of fear and frustration. But Ammons and Bennett saidthey were workinghard 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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