Entire Illinois Democratic House Delegation Signs onto the Bustos Letter
WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) led the entire Illinois Democratic Delegation to demand that Gov. Bruce Rauner fully fund domestic violence programs across the state. Gov. Rauner’s refusal to compromise and pass a budget has left the State of Illinois without a budget for nearly three years, and in his budget address earlier this week, the Governor did not outline domestic violence programs as a priority for his Administration.
“Gov. Rauner’s failed ideological experiment in Illinois has wreaked havoc across our state, and too often, it has been the most vulnerable among us – such as survivors of domestic violence – who have paid the price for his inability to compromise,” Congresswoman Bustos said. “Women and children fleeing domestic abusers need our help and Gov. Rauner hasn’t done his part. After nearly three years, it is long past time for Gov. Rauner to put politics aside and pass a budget that will fully restore funding for domestic violence programs.”
Last year, Congresswoman Bustos hosted Gary Halbach, President and CEO of the Rockford area non-profit domestic violence shelter Remedies Renewing Lives, at President Obama’s final State of the Union to highlight the challenges Remedies has faced due to the lack of a state budget in Illinois. Because of failure in Springfield, they were forced to turn away 118 women and children seeking domestic violence support in September, 2015.
A recent AP article showed that the Rauner Administration failed to inform domestic violence agencies that they would once again run out of state funding. Congresswoman Bustos and the signatories are urging Gov. Rauner to put partisanship and non-budgetary demands aside and finally agree to a budget that fully restores funding for domestic violence programs.
Below is the text of the letter to Gov. Rauner:
The Honorable Bruce Rauner
Governor of Illinois
207 State House
Springfield, IL 62706
Dear Governor Rauner,
For nearly three years, thousands of Illinoisans have been hurt by your refusal to compromise and agree to a real budget. It’s hard to truly grasp the damage that has been done, but there is perhaps no clearer example of this failure than your administration’s approach to funding domestic violence programs.
As was recently revealed in an Associated Press article, Secretary James Dimas failed to inform domestic violence programs across the state that they would, once again, be running out of state funding. To add insult to injury, Secretary Dimas waited until just two weeks before temporary funding expired to inform domestic violence programs about this failure. Asked why they would wait until the 11th hour, Secretary Dimas claimed it was just “some confusion.”
Quite simply, that’s not good enough.
The permanent damage caused by defunding domestic violence shelters and prevention programs cannot be understated.
In September 2015, Remedies Renewing Lives domestic violence shelter in Winnebago County was forced to turn away 118 desperate women and children at the door because they simply didn’t have the state funding to help them in their hour of need.
In Kane County, after months of the State failing to provide its share of their funding stream, the Mutual Ground shelter has been forced to lay off four people, reducing their ability to serve the community – and that’s after being unable to replace six other staffers who left last year.
At the Center for Domestic Peace in Chicago, which provides prevention counseling to past offenders, employees are taking pay cuts to make up for their lost funding – an unsustainable and damaging choice that will ultimately lead to fewer counselors staying in this line of work.
As federal officials, we have proudly supported legislation that provided record funding for domestic violence programs through the Violence Against Women Act – however it is long past time for the State to do its part.
Every day, three women die from domestic violence across our country. For thousands of women and children across our state, this truly is a matter of life or death. The time to act is now.
While we were disappointed that you did not raise this issue during your budget address on Wednesday, we are hopeful that you will reassess this situation with fresh eyes and do the right thing.
We strongly urge you to put partisanship and non-budgetary demands aside and finally agree to a budget that fully restores funding for domestic violence programs.
Congresswoman Cheri Bustos
Congressman Bill Foster
Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi
Congressman Bobby L. Rush
Congressman Bradley S. Schneider
Congressman Danny K. Davis
Congressman Mike Quigley
Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky
Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez
Congresswoman Robin L. Kelly
Congressman Daniel W. Lipinski