Protesters March Against Budget Cuts Costing At-Risk Youth Jobs

Protesters hit Chicago streets Tuesday ahead of anticipated budget cuts by Governor Bruce Rauner.

Chanting about the need for jobs, demonstrators said positions promised to at-risk youth were pulled away in a Thursday email from the governor’s office.

“He has cut $4.5 million in youth employment,” said Father Michael Pfleger of the St. Sabina Parish. “He has cut $3.5 million in after school care. Make it clear, this money he can say the state didn’t have, this money was allocated. Jobs began, contracts were signed as of January 1.”

One of those contracts was with the Humboldt Park-based Youth Connections, which was expecting $900,000 to fund 250 jobs.

“I was sad. I was crushed,” said Founder of Fellowship Connections Lynette Santiago. “In this economy and in this community we serve, to have to tell people that they are no longer employed… I don’t know.”

Pfleger said the cuts are “inappropriate” at the time and come at a time when the governor is raising the salaries of his own staff.

“He’s giving his executive assistant a 94 percent increase in salary and he is hiring a chief of staff for his wife,” he said.

In a statement today, the governor’s office blamed former Governor Pat Quinn’s administration.

“Unfortunately, Governor Quinn signed a budget that is unbalanced by $1.5 billion,” the statement read. “The administration is taking action to manage the inherited budget hole and is working with the legislature to find responsible solutions.”

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