About a dozen protesters were removed from the Illinois House of Representatives on Tuesday after disrupting one of the final days of the legislative session.
With lawmakers set to adjourn Wednesday at midnight and no budget deal in sight, activists stormed the Capitol to express their disdain that lawmakers have yet to reach a compromise on Illinois’ 700th day without a budget.
Capitol security and Illinois State Police officers yanked the chanting protesters out of the House gallery after some refused to leave, while hundreds more staged a demonstration outside Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office and throughout the Capitol.
Many of those participating represent social service agencies that have not been paid during the nearly two-yearlong impasse.
The protesters arrived in Springfield to show their determination for legislators to reach a compromise, with about a dozen walking all the way from Chicago to send a message.
"People are angry because they’re hurting,” said Kristi Sanford, of activist group The People’s Lobby. “So we have people who’ve marched 15 days and 200 miles from Chicago to Springfield because they’ve lost loved ones without health care, or they can’t get the mental health care they need, or their schools are underfunded or their MAP grants have been taken away.”
One of the marchers was 91-year-old Alfred Klinger, a military veteran from Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood.
“I want the millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share,” Klinger said.
John Pope, of Rosslyn, walked to Springfield as well to explain what Illinois’ budget impasse has meant to him.
"It’s really hurting people, especially low income neighborhoods,” he said. “People all over the state are struggling to pay their bills, to make ends meet and we need a budget that prioritizes human life and the environment over money and profit."
With session winding down, and few expressing optimism that lawmakers will find a way to compromise, it appears that more protests over the final days in Springfield are likely.