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Southern Illinoisans Talk About the "State of our State"

Brad Palmer, WSIU Radio
Miriam Link-Mullison comments to those gathered for the "State of our State" news conference at Carbondale's Civic Center.

A day ahead of Governor Bruce Rauner's State of the State address, a group of people in southern Illinois impacted by the budget impasse spoke out about what they call the "State of our State."

Southern Illinois attorney Daniel Silver says he has a revenue generating solution. He says lawmakers need to fast-track House Bill 106, the LaSalle Street Tax, which would tax transactions on the Chicago Mercantile and Board Options Exchanges. He says this would generate $10 billion a year for the state.

Silver says Illinoisans have to push lawmakers to do this because there is power in numbers, especially on an individual measure like this.

"Who would ever thought women would get to vote? Silly, women voting? No. Women can vote because enough people got together on a single issue. Same sex marriage, right? Ten years ago, not a possibility, (but) enough people get together, single issue."

Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry says all solutions to the budget impasse must be explored, including House Bill 106.

"If I go up there, and I'm trading stocks, or I'm buying commodities, it's going to cost me a dollar a trade. That's nothing in a $10,000 trade, or really, the typical trades are in the millions of dollars. It's a zero-effect tax."

Miriam Link-Mullison is director of the Jackson County Health Department and president of the Illinois Public Health Association. She says the budget stalemate has forced her office and others like it across the state have done everything in their power without laying off staff. But, Link-Mullison says that can't last indefinitely.

"I will likely be forced to discontinue all state funded services by June or July, resulting in layoffs and loss of service. We just simply can't continue to provide these services as unfunded mandates."

Jennifer Basten is a single mother who is in the Healthy Families program through Shawnee Health Services. She says the lack of a state budget is making her life more difficult in just getting around and providing for her children.

"Transportation and getting new car seats and the more developmental stuff that the kids need."

Higher education is among those suffering through the current fiscal year without any state funding due to the budget stalemate.

Tuesday, the student trustee at John A. Logan College outlined how the budget crisis is impacting the Carterville-based school. Brandi Husch says Logan is dealing with an unprecedented dilemma.

"Since John A. Logan College was established, the need to borrow money has never happened.  Now, to make it through the Spring Semester of 2016, we may have no other choice. John A. Logan is also facing the possible announcement of layoffs for Fall of 2016."

Organizations that provide educational help and recreation for K through 12 students are suffering as well. Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale executive director Randy Osborn says the lack of a budget has cost them funding for a Teen Reach grant.

"It's been the Department of Human Services primary youth prevention and education program for thousands and thousands of kids throughout the state. And, all funding to that program ended on July 1st of last year."

Governor Rauner delivers his State of the State address tomorrow (Wed) at noon. You can hear it on WSIU Radio and wsiunews.org.


As a news producer and news anchor on All Things Considered, Brad provides the listeners with a recap of the day's top local and state news as well as breaking news at any given time. Contact WSIU Radio at 618-453-6101 or email wsiunews@wsiu.org
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