FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Juan Ramiro Sarmiento
(785) 760 6567 | email@example.com
Statement on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s State of the State and Budget Address
(Chicago, IL) – Today, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker delivered his State of the State and Budget address outlining his priorities. He outlined a proposed $41.6 billion state budget along with a plan to close corporate tax loopholes and modestly invest in critical state agencies. Governor Pritzker was clear that economic recovery must be paired with pandemic recovery efforts.
In response, Lily Rocha, Midwest Regional Director for Young Invincibles, issued the following statement:
“We acknowledge the difficulty in creating a state budget during a global pandemic which has adversely impacted every aspect of life. We are heartened to see Governor Pritzker invest, albeit modestly, in critical departments such as the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois Department of Human Services. We reiterate his call for additional funding for the Illinois Department of Employment Security to aid in the record numbers of unemployment claims.
However, Governor Pritzker fell short in ensuring young adults can afford college. The Monetary Award Program (MAP) is one of the major resources available to provide higher education opportunities to students in need, who are often first-generation and students of color. The proposed funding for this program at $28 million falls significantly short of the $50 million needed to assist these students. Young adults in Illinois represent the future of our state and our budget priorities ought to reflect that reality, particularly in higher education. While we find ourselves in a challenging budgetary cycle, we must not defer educational opportunities for young people in our state. Young Invincibles and our coalition partners will continue to advocate for increased assistance to students pursuing higher education here in Illinois.
We also urge Governor Pritzker and the Illinois General Assembly to address the mental health needs of thousands of struggling students. COVID-19 has only exacerbated students’ mental health issues, and higher education institutions are in dire need of full funding of the Mental Health Early Action on Campus Act to provide students with safe, culturally competent, and effective mental health services. We were disappointed about the lack of a plan to fund this Act, but we will continue to work with stakeholders to bring about the necessary mental health support to students.
Also notably absent were details for funding to ensure workers, particularly low-income workers, are able to access jobs with a living wage. We call on Governor Pritzker and his colleagues in the legislature to create funds designed to reduce barriers to gainful employment.
Young adults ages 18-34 in Illinois are urging our elected officials to enact policies that set us up for economic success. We cannot prosper until there is adequate funding for higher education, health care and mental health services, and workforce opportunities. These programs must be funded today to ensure our economic prosperity tomorrow.”