Black and Latino caucuses voice support for proposed budget | Illinois
By BETH HUNSDORFER
Illinois Capitol News
Members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus and Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus voiced overall support for Gov. GB Pritzker’s budget in separate press conferences on Wednesday, but said they would continue to push to address the shortfall. access to health care, affordable housing and economic development. , and high-quality education for black and brown communities in Illinois.
Illinois Senate Black Caucus Chair Robert Peters, D-Chicago, and Latino Legislative Caucus Chair Sen. Karina Villa, D-West Chicago, said Pritzker’s budget was a good start .
“This budget is in a good place, and given the circumstances, it reflects a more optimistic outlook than where we were a year ago,” Peters said. “The budget proposal certainly takes into account the improved circumstances of our state’s economic and fiscal situation, and it’s a good place to start the process of writing our first budget that puts us on the road to recovery. economy during this pandemic.”
Villa and Peters, in separate appearances, hailed the $240 million investment in new funding for the Reimagine Public Safety Act for increased funding for community-based violence intervention programs, behavioral health programs and recovery after trauma.
“We have a unique opportunity to heal trauma, repair damage and create safety for communities that have faced too much pain for too long,” Peters said.
Peters also pushed for the full implementation of the SAFE-T Act, a criminal justice reform passed in January last year.
The proposed budget includes funding for the $26 million requested by the Illinois Supreme Court to establish comprehensive pretrial services in the 63 counties without such services. It includes an additional $10 million in new Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board appropriations to pay for obligations associated with the SAFE-T Act.
“We’re improving public safety, supporting better law enforcement, and working to end systemic injustice all at the same time,” he said.
Peters said he supports housing assistance that includes $10 million for eviction mitigation and $40 million for the energy assistance program for low-income households.
Low unemployment rates and rising incomes show signs of economic growth, but Villa said families are feeling the lingering effects of the pandemic.
She praised a proposed one-year holiday on the 1% grocery tax, as well as a proposal to reverse a planned 2.2-cent fuel tax increase. of the state for the current fiscal year.
Black Caucus members said the budget should drive real, transformative change to close economic gaps for minorities.
“One of the things I love is that we’re going to tackle health care disparities, ensure economic sustainability by retaining and creating jobs, invest in small businesses, which are the backbone of our local economies, supporting education,” said Rep. Nick Smith, D-Chicago.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also underscored housing and healthcare inequities in the Latino community, Villa said.
“The reality is that we still have a very long way to go to recover. The pandemic has further revealed an urgent need for access to health care in our community,” Villa said.
Leaders of both caucus said they would continue to work to improve opportunities for their constituents when negotiating the budget.
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