Press Releases
February 18, 2015

Chicago Federation of Labor disappointed over Governor Rauner’s inability to responsibly address Illinois’ budget

Today, Governor Rauner presented a budget that eliminates services, programs and securities that are vital to the health, prosperity and well-being of the children, adults and seniors across the state of Illinois. “We are deeply disappointed that Governor Rauner has chosen to slash his way through the state budget, rather than explore new revenue streams in an effort to save essential programs,” said CFL President Jorge Ramirez. “The voters of Illinois elected Rauner to bring people together in an effort to develop a balanced and fair system that creates economic opportunities for all. At a time when we should be supporting the economic mobility of workers and businesses, he is purposefully dividing these two interests, encouraging practices that will ultimately increase income disparity.”

Rauner’s proposed budget takes a direct aim at the marginalized and vulnerable segments of our society and the workers who serve on the front lines carrying out the necessary and meaningful work that our communities depend on to survive. His irresponsible cutting spree is aimed at the fundamental and necessary programs that support low-income and homeless children, the mentally and physically disabled, veterans assistance, and the mass transit systems employers and employees rely on every day, to name a few. The problem is the need for these services will not decrease as the funding is reduced. In fact, it will continue to rise as economic disparity in our state continues to increase. Governor Rauner is leaving our most vulnerable sectors without the necessary funding, creating an environment that will produce an even bigger burden to the budget.

One of his proposed savings streams is to severely underfund workers’ pensions. What he is neglecting to acknowledge is Illinois workers have faithfully paid into the system with the understanding that when they retire, they would receive a modest pension for their years of dedicated service to the state. These pensions ensure that those who have dedicated decades to their career don’t live in poverty in their golden years. In recent weeks, we have seen Governor Rauner systematically vilify and malign state workers, blaming them for Illinois’ current financial crisis. He wants to undercut the decent pay, affordable health care and retirement security that our nurses, teachers, snowplow and school bus drivers have rightfully earned. Rauner’s approach will diminish thousands of workers’ retirement benefits by converting what was a guaranteed security of a pension to a riskier 401(k)-style retirement plan. In fact, 401(k)-type plans were never intended to be the sole security retirement benefit for workers; they were merely intended as a supplement.

Since taking office, Governor Rauner has stressed the notion of working together to solve Illinois’ financial crisis and that it will need to be a shared sacrifice. However, the budget he has presented shows he chooses not to reconcile his actions with his words. This is not a thoughtful budget aimed at growing the economy and expanding the middle class. He chooses to shield large corporations from their fiscal responsibilities by failing to acknowledge the impact corporate tax loopholes have on the budget. Corporations in Illinois need to have a vested interest in the well-being of their employees and begin to contribute their fair share to Illinois’s economic climate.

Governor Rauner needs to stop running down the people of Illinois. His budget is an insult to the working people who elected him as our governor and will prove to be a greater detriment to the state.

 

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The Chicago Federation of Labor is the third-largest central labor council of the AFL-CIO in the United States representing approximately 300 local unions comprised of over half a million union members in Chicago and Cook County.

 

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