FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 16, 2015
Contact Ivan Moreno 312.673.3802
Faith and Community Leaders From Arlington Heights Protest Rauner Cuts, Say, ‘We are Willing to Pay More in Taxes, Don’t Cut Programs that People’s Lives Depend On’
Northwest Suburban Churches and Faith-Based NGOs Join Chorus of Opposition to Proposed Budget Cuts
Arlington Heights, IL– About 100 faith and community leaders protested Rauner’s proposed state budget cuts, claiming that it will hurt Illinois’ most vulnerable and that Governor Bruce Rauner has not explored all options for increasing revenue. Arlington Heights residents are echoing concerns heard across Illinois over the cuts’ long-term impact. Although protests have been held by communities that will bear the brunt of the cuts, communities more resources are also joining the chorus of opposition to Rauner’s proposed budget.
Cindy Greenwood, a member of Southminster Presbyterian Church and a co-chair of Saturday’s rally, said, “While my family will not be directly impacted by these budget cuts, I am fine paying a little more in taxes if that means thousands of families can have their educational, health care, housing and other basic needs met. The difference in what most people with higher incomes would pay will not impact their lives, but it could be life-changing for those on the margins.” Activists are seeking to demonstrate to state lawmakers that opposition to Rauner’s proposed budget is diverse and growing.
Social services across the state will be seriously impaired if the governor’s proposed budget is passed, while some programs will be shuttered altogether. Deep cuts to health services provide distressing example of the effects of the budget on individuals and their communities. “You simply cannot cut mental illness out of society. Taking away psychiatry services for the mentally ill is the equivalent of taking insulin away from a diabetic,” said Rick Germann, Executive Director of Alexian Brothers Center for Mental Health.
Today’s protest marks the first time that Arlington Heights churches have organized a demonstration of this scale. Rev. Will Green, associate pastor at First United Methodist Church of Arlington Heights, who helped organize the protest together with faith leaders from St. John United Church of Christ, Southminster Presbyterian Church and his church, said, “As people of faith, we are morally opposed to making cuts on the backs of those who can least afford to lose vital services. In some cases people’s lives depend on state programs and services. As Christians we can’t pretend that there is nothing wrong with this budget.”
Protesters led a short march to downtown Arlington Heights and gathered for a prayer vigil after members of the group performed street theater of the Good Samaritan. Michelle Johns, a co-chair of Saturday’s rally from St. John United Church of Christ, said, “The Parable of the Good Samaritan is a good example of what the Governor's budget proposal asks of us: walk away and leave the vulnerable at the side of the road. The parable is clear on what it means to be a neighbor. Neighbors stand in solidarity; they act for the well-being of all. Neighbors protect the vulnerable, including those threatened by the wounds of state budget cuts." Faith leaders are appealing to a moral sense of responsibility to the hundreds of thousands that would endure the devastating cuts.
Community Renewal Society is a progressive, faith-based organization that works to eliminate race and class barriers. Founded in 1882, Community Renewal informs, organizes and trains both communities and individuals to advocate for social and economic justice.