Picketers bring state budget concerns for Gov. Rauner

  Erin Slone, a member of Action for a Better Tomorrow
  South Suburban Chapter, stood at Flossmoor Road
  and Kedzie Avenue Friday protesting Gov. Bruce
  Rauner's policies and the state's budget impasse.

  (Photos by Mary Compton/H-F Chronicle)
 
A small group of protesters brought a very strong message to the corner of Flossmoor Road and Kedzie Avenue Friday afternoon: Pass a state budget.
 
Local members of Action for a Better Tomorrow (ABT) came to share that and a few other messages with Gov. Bruce Rauner during his special visit to Homewood-Flossmoor High School. They stood at the corner knowing they couldn’t go on school property for a chat with him before his 60-minute visit with fine arts students. 
 
 Instead, they got support from passers-by sounding their car horns for the 90 minutes they were in Flossmoor.
 
“We think he went by us. The car came from Flossmoor Road and make a sharp turn on to Kedzie, but with tinted windows it was hard to be sure,” ABT member Nancy Switzer said. “The car did pull in to the high school driveway,” so Switzer surmises it was the governor.
 
Because of the short notice, only a handful of picketers were present. School officials only announced the visit 24 hours in advance of his 1 p.m. arrival. The governor’s office did not publicize the H-F visit, according to ABT.
 
  Terri Butler of Flossmoor,
  lifts her sign up high
  stating as she stands
  near H-F High School.
  In the background is
  Jessica Matushek. They
  were hoping their message
  would reach Gov. Bruce
  Rauner when he visited
  the school Friday. 

 
The message the group of six was anxious to share was the urgency to pass a state budget, and they were angry that the governor said he would veto HB40, a bill that would guarantee abortion would remain legal in Illinois, even if Roe v. Wade, the federal law guaranteeing a woman's right to choose, is overturned by the Supreme Court. HB40 also would guarantee state employee health insurance and Medicaid would cover abortion procedures.
 
Sandra Slone of Park Forest said she had concerns about the governor’s interest in making Illinois a "right to work" state calling it “seriously just a joke.”
 
Switzer said the group is alarmed about the effects on Illinois’ university and college systems since state funding has been shut off to them for more than two years. ABT also wants action on Chicago Public Schools (CPS) funding.
 
“In the time we were there, people would honk their horns. If they stopped for the light and asked what we were doing, we explained and we encouraged people to vote,” Switzer said.
 
In an interview for the student newscast on Viking TV, Rauner said, “Education is the most important thing we do, and my wife and I are very passionate about improving education.”
 
He said the couple has “donated a significant amount of money to CPS in the last 30 years ourselves. My wife and I are very passionate about Chicago Public Schools but all schools across Illinois, especially those that are in neighborhoods that just don’t have resources themselves to help families that don’t have as much income to make sure that the schools their children go to are high quality.”
 
When he was asked about the current state of education in Illinois, he told interviewer Keithina Montgomery it was “an excellent question. Well, we’re working very hard … to get a balanced budget that has a lot more money for schools in it and I want to add money every year for it. We’re trying to balance it for more jobs ... and we’re trying to get the government from restricting our schools.”
 
Another questioner asked how he plans to improve education in impoverished areas, and will it help reduce violence.
 
The governor answered: “One of the reasons we do have violence in many of our communities is because there hasn’t been high quality education options for young people. They don’t have the wonderful education opportunity you have here at Homewood-Flossmoor. We want to change that and make it better every day in every community. 
 
“The other thing we’ve got to change is in too many communities we don’t have enough jobs,” he continued. “We don’t have career options available. We have one of the highest unemployment rates anywhere in many of our neighborhoods and communities and that’s what gets young people into other illegal activities to provide for themselves. We’ve got to change that and bring more jobs to Illinois.”

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