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Chicago residents who are being impacted by gun violence, such as Brenda McMillon, who lost her grandson in 2013, are demanding Governor Bruce Rauner prioritize funding for proven anti-violence programs over a potential $870 million payout to Wall Street banks in November.

This year in Chicago nearly 2300 people have been shot resulting in close to 400 deaths. Our state’s notorious budget impasse has contributed to the increase in violence by disinvesting from life-saving programs like Ceasefire, After School Matters, Teen Reach, and summer jobs for youth.

During a press conference held last Friday, residents outlined how the state of Illinois has paid out $92 million to a small set of Wall Street banks, but invested a mere $2.4 million in anti-violence programs in FY16. “Right now the state of Illinois is cutting life-saving programs like CeaseFire, LIHEAP, and Senior HomeCare. The money being used to pay out these toxic swaps isn’t being pulled out of thin air – it is coming from our communities and our programs,” stated Erica Rangel with Enlace Chicago, which operates one of the two remaining Ceasefire sites left in the state.

Tim Nuding, director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget told the Sun-Times that the administration is, “taking all reasonable actions to limit our risk and exposure on these deals.”

But what does the Rauner administration mean by limiting risk? Does it mean following the disastrous example of Chicago Mayor Emanuel, who while claiming to limit risk, really actualized the risk by paying out these deals in full? If so, does Governor Rauner believe he needs legislative authorization to make a voluntary lump sum payout of nearly a billion dollars?
If the Governor intends to choose a different path, one which would enable the state of Illinois to recoup some of its losses from these deals and invest that $870 million in Illinois communities this year, why didn’t he act to renew the letters of credit immediately? Parents and grandparents who have lost children as a result of massive disinvestment by the state want to know what Governor Rauner will choose to prioritize. And they deserve an answer.

Who Got Paid is a project of Grassroots Collaborative

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