Frustrated families and leaders call state of Illinois weak

Teen programs have been cut, women’s and children’s programs dismantled and higher education funding slashed. It’s all because of Illinois’ lack of a budget.

As Gov. Bruce Rauner prepares his state of the state address, some are calling leadership in the state weak.

During her short life, 8-month-old Sha-Niyah Love has never lived in an Illinois with a budget. Sha-Niyah’s mom, Shanikka Love, says her baby girl is being hurt the most by the impasse, because it has cut off funding for programs Sha-Niyah needs.

"But they can’t help us, because the government won’t help them. So what now?" Love asked Tuesday.

Moms like Love and Jennifer Baseden used to turn to Shawnee Health and Family for services as basic as transportation. They say the budget impasse is stopping that.

"I mean, come on! The kids have WIC appointments, doctor’s appointments, et cetera. And how are we supposed to get there if we don’t have a car?" Baseden asked.

They listened Tuesday as people from nonprofit groups, city leaders and health and education officials railed on the governor and lawmakers for what they describe as poor leadership and allowing the state to struggle without a budget for nearly two-thirds of the year.

"Just do it, and get funding that is due to our organizations. Quit worrying about your reelection cycle," said Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry.

"Illinois’ public health system and our ability to respond to emergencies is  being dismantled by the governor and lawmakers’ failure," said Miriam Link-Mullison, director of the Jackson County Health Department.

When Rauner makes his state of the state address, they say they’ll all be watching and waiting to hear real answers and leadership.

"Just make a decision. It’s not that hard," Love said.

In a statement, the governor’s office says, “The Responsible Budget Coalition should know the first step in having a responsible budget is having a truly balanced budget. Governor Rauner stands ready to pass structural reforms and a balanced budget that will help fund social service programs and jump start our economy.”

The governor will give the state of the state speech on Wednesday.

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