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Legislators denounce Rauner budget

The Daily Republican
Posted on 6/23/2015, 9:04 AM

HERRIN — Three Southern Illinois legislators, all Democrats, pledged to continue to work for middle-class working families and seniors who rely on social service programs.

State Reps John Bradley of Marion and Brandon Phillips of Harrisburg joined State Sen. Gary Forby of Benton in denouncing Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposed budget cuts during a news conference held at the Williamson County Programs on Aging.

"I think it's ridiculous to put working families, seniors and the most vulnerable people that we need to take care of in the middle of this political game, said Phelps.

"We're calling him to do the right thing. You don't treat government like private business. I'm here to stand for all of you to do what's right. Governor, I'm asking you to call this off. Let's get back to the table and do what's right."

Phelps also took a shot at the governor for attempting to shut down one of Hardin County's largest employers, the DOC work camp.

"We've got enough budget that we sent over to the governor to keep every facility open in this state and I hope he honors that," Phelps said.

"Why do we go to Springfield?" asked Forby. "If we can't help the people that needs it why are we up there and why are we up there if we let the governor do what he wants? He says, 'I want to do everything myself. You legislators have no say so.' This is wrong," he said.

Forby said Rauner is not a Democrat, a Republican or an independent.

"He's a nobody," Forby said. "All he's doing is giving the Republicans a black eye. I've got a lot of Democrat and Republican friends and they don't believe like he does. He is just wrong. We're going to stay and fight. I guarantee, I don't lose, we're going to win."

Bradley said there are powerful outside interests that are in the process of attempting to dismantle the middle class.

"They're trying to drive down wages of working men and women. And they are attempting to destroy downstate health care," said Bradley. "They're after us because we're standing up for you. What we're fighting here is nothing less than for the middle class for wages and for the downstate health care system that we have built so hard to build. We're going to keep working for the middle class, for working men and women, for downstate health care and for Southern Illinois because you and our communities are too valuable."

Several people who have depended on social service programs to stay afloat were supportive of the legislators.

Sandra Newbolds of Shawnee Alliance Programs on Aging is legally blind and said she depends on health care givers to take her to and from the grocery store.

"We need the health care. We paid our taxes and we paid into this community and it's high time we got something back for doing so," Newbolds said. "We need to keep people working and people need to understand we count."

Heather Wininger, a former employee of Bombardier, said she was able to go back to school after the plant closed but depended on funds from the I-HEAP (Home Energy Assistance Program) while getting back on her feet.

"They were there while I was in a rough spot. I'm currently employed but I think it's important for middle class people like me. I think it would be a horrible thing to do away with the program," she said.

Jennifer Trexler of Marion was homeless two years ago. Her family of five found housing through the Southern Illinois Coalition for the Homeless.

"If they weren't there we wouldn't have a place," Trexler said. "We're grateful to have a place called home."

Trexler said she became homeless when she couldn't make rent and pay other bills from a minimum wage job. Her husband, Chris, was unemployed at the time, although he is currently working.

"I had my family take my kids in so they wouldn't be out on the street with my husband and I. Then I found an ad in the newspaper about the Coalition. That same day they got me an interview and told me they could help us out," she said.

While living in a duplex in Marion currently, the Trexlers are waiting on rehabilitation to be completed on a house in Herrin, which they are hoping to eventually own.

And Eileen Dowman of Carbondale explained her partner and daughter both have mental health issues and rely on services provided by a regional agency.

"Centerstone is the best model for mental health that I've ever seen. They come to the house, they bring medicine, they talk to them. These are stressful times and thank God for Centerstone," she said. "We need the support of our governor for all people in all ways, physically and mentally."