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Springfield Tue Feb 16 2010

Responsible Budget Coalition Takes to the Capitol

The Responsible Budget Coalition is taking to the capitol on Wednesday to advocate on behalf of social service providers and their clients who have taken a beating over the last few years as the state Democratic leaders refuse to deal with the budget because of the perceived electoral consequences (if only we could indefinitely suspend elections--maybe then we can get some action).

More than three thousand service providers and clients will be making their case in Springfield, representing groups like this:

Participating organizations include AARP, AFSCME, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Citizen Action/Illinois, the Hope Institute, Illinois Action for Children, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Illinois Education Association, Illinois Federation of Teachers, Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living, Jane Addams Senior Caucus, Lake County Center for Independent Living, Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, SEIU Health Care, Voices for Illinois Children, Williamson County Early Childhood Cooperative, Women Employed, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago and many more.

Those evil special interests. The RBC is specifically pushing for new revenues for radical programs such as paying past due bills to non-profits.

UPDATE: Internet truism: The punishment for overly-dry sarcasm is angry comments. I don't consider the Williamson County Early Childhood Cooperative and their clients a "special interest" group, nor do I think the state paying its bills to social service providers is a radical idea.

It speaks to how far off base free market fundamentalists have dragged the debate on public services that anybody could even consider those statements serious.

The Responsible Budget Coalition has not brought together groups that are trying to divert precious resources to a profit-motivated constituency: that anti-tax zealots lump efforts like this in with, say, horse track owners exploiting the farm bill, reveals their intellectual dishonesty. These groups are fighting at the very least to get paid for social services that have a concrete benefit for society. We want people on the margins to get outreach services that help them get and keep jobs, stay out of trouble, get cleaned up. Those services that keep communities safe and vibrant. They keep people who care about helping their fellow citizens employed in work they are passionate about--and for which, by the way, they earn very little.

Illinois already has the lowest state employee per capita ratio in the nation. While this doesn't include privatized services that provide analogous services (see list above) it is telling. There's no cutting our way out of the budget problem, and efforts to do so can easily be shown to be disingenuous.

I don't know about you, but I know scores of people who either work for these agencies providing services or rely on these services themselves. I don't think legislation to increase revenue stream to keep these services that benefit so many--not some narrow "special interest"--and that keep our communities vibrant and alive represents any sort of
"doomsday" death knell. You can take action to support the effort now.

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Bob Gallo / February 16, 2010 3:41 PM

Thanks for noting my evil nature by my insisting that the state, not unlike myself and other responsible individuals, pays for what they purchased. So much for government acting like a business.

For years now governments, national,state and local pushed previously run programs (privatized) to organizations such as those mentioned in the Responsible Budget Coalition, thus reducing the size of government. So now that those organizations have taken on the serious and necessary responsibility of caring for our less fortunate fellow citizens they are repaid by an irresponsible legislature and executive branch instead of being paid for the vital services they've rendered. So now it is payback time and we mean business.

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