Equality Illinois Alarmed at Failure to Agree on State Budget
At-risk Illinoisans face hardships due to program shutdowns
CHICAGO (July 1, 2015) – Equality Illinois is alarmed that the state’s fiscal year begins today without a state budget and adequate revenues in place to guarantee that essential services remain available for all Illinoisans.
“The urgent needs of some of the state’s at-risk population demands of us that we continue the struggle for fair and equal treatment for everyone,” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans.
That includes passage and approval of a responsible state budget that protects critical services for Illinoisans and getting key legislation approved by Gov. Bruce Rauner that protects LGBT Illinoisans.
“Today is Day One of the State’s Fiscal Year 2016, and there is no budget in place to fund the vital services for the most vulnerable Illinoisans, including the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) for those who are unable to afford HIV/AIDS drugs, support services for homeless youth, and individuals with mental illnesses,” Cherkasov said. “This is unacceptable and catastrophic for individuals who daily rely on those services.”
“We call upon Gov. Rauner and the General Assembly to work together to quickly pass a fair, fully-funded, and responsible budget,” Cherkasv said. “In the interim, we call upon Gov. Rauner to use his administrative authority to ensure Illinoisans continue to have uninterrupted access to essential programs such as ADAP.”
As part of the Responsible Budget Coalition, Equality Illinois joined more than 300 nonprofit organizations across Illinois in calling for a fair and fully-funded budget plan before Fiscal Year 2016 begins today. A letter, which was delivered to the governor and four legislative leaders, highlights the devastating impacts of the budget impasse on Illinoisans who rely on State-funded programs and services. The letter can be viewed HERE.
Equality Illinois is also calling on Gov. Rauner to sign three pro-LGBT pieces of legislation that are now on his desk: House Bill 217, which protects LGBT youth from dangerous, discredited “conversion therapy”; House Bill 3552, which allows a person to specify his or her gender identity in funeral and burial instructions; and House Bill 3930, which enhances Illinois hate crimes provisions by explicitly including gender identity and protecting LGBT community centers. These bills passed the General Assembly with bipartisan majorities.
Yesterday, Equality Illinois submitted a petition to the governor’s office urging him to sign HB 217. Signed by thousands of Illinoisans from across Illinois, the petition asks the governor to protect LGBT youth and sign HB 217.
“There is no reason to delay acting on these measures, all passed with bi-partisan majorities, to help protect LGBT Illinoisans,” Cherkasov said.