The State of our State as experienced at A Just Harvest is not good.
Numbers in our Community Kitchen hold steady as we see an increase in the number of mentally handicapped, children and seniors.
Vulnerable parents seeking a road out of poverty have been blocked while applying for childcare assistance. They saw the qualifying maximum slashed from $44,000 to $12,000, meaning two parents, working full-time at minimum wage, were too wealthy to get childcare.
While these cuts were officially reversed in November – for the most part – as many as 32,000 eligible children are still without daycare.
Homecare providers have seen paychecks withheld, delayed and diminished. If your bank account is padded by commas and zeros, no problem. If yours has never seen a comma and regularly approaches zero, having a paycheck withheld is gut-wrenching. It’s also immoral.
Let’s not play games with people’s well-earned pay.
In Rogers Park, parents worry as they send their children out the door in the morning: will they survive the route to and from? Will the school keep its doors open or will funding cuts – like the $1.2 million over the past thee years sustained at Gale Academy, just down the street from us – continue to make charter-school cherry-picking the only viable option?
A large percentage of young men and women in our neighborhood find themselves with few good options.
However, perpetuating a criminal justice system that subsists on court fines and fees, that treats young brown and black people differently, and that prefers to lock up and throw away the key – at great taxpayer expense – rather than figuring out how to bring those on the margins back into the fold is unjust. It’s immoral. And it must stop.
Governor Rauner, no doubt our state faces a financial morass. It is a once in several generations problem, requiring long-term commitment and civic engagement, two “c’s” missing from your “compassion and competition” platform.
We are all committed to working together to build a better Illinois – one that will stand vibrant and healthy 100 years from now.
But we can’t do it on the backs of the poor. Never, in the history of the world, has sustainable change been brought about by exploiting low-income and vulnerable communities.
And it won’t work here.
Instead, let’s close loopholes that allow two out of every three corporations in Illinois to pay zero in corporate income taxes.
Let’s find ways to fund education equitably so that our youth – whatever their zipcode or skin color – has a viable shot at a living wage.
Let’s end the cancer of gun violence, which is every bit as toxic to our state’s competitiveness as anything contained in tax codes and collective bargaining agreements. Let’s not be fooled into thinking that as long as shootings are contained to certain geographies, we can continue on with the business of building the state.
It won’t work.
We’ve got an incredible state, no doubt, rich with history and blessed with natural resources and potential.
Will you join us – those on the margins, those without a direct line to the capitol – in building it ?