CCOB to Participate in Community Forum on IL State Budget Impasse

The CCOB is one of several community organizations that will be participating in an upcoming community forum to discuss how the IL budget impasse impacts Fulton County. The following is a press release about the event which will be moderated by our very own Pastor Kevin Kessler:

Community leaders, church community, and organizations impacted by Springfield’s failure to pass state budget seek to bring accountability back to state government.

Following two consecutive, entire fiscal years without a state budget, a group of concerned citizens is seeking to bring accountability back to Springfield. Their efforts begin with a State Budget Impasse Forum, to be held June 12, 2017 from 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the Canton High School Auditorium. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.

The goals of the nonpartisan forum are to equip the public with information about the impacts of not having a budget so that, collectively, Springfield politicians can be held accountable for the drastic consequences their inaction has caused.

The idea originated from the Canton Area Ministerial Alliance (CAMA), a group of pastors and ministers from area churches.

Both in our congregations and in the work that we do in our community, we constantly see what the lack of action in Springfield has caused,” said Pastor Nina Nestlerode, President of CAMA and a lead organizer of the forum. “It is our duty to act so that the most vulnerable among us receive the dignity that they deserve.”

Hardest hit by the budget impasse are students, those who receive long-term nursing care, victims of domestic violence, people who suffer mental disabilities, and others who are served by local organizations which typically receive funding from the state.

“While many of our friends and neighbors have been impacted and severely feel those impacts, it is clear that too many don’t realize how close to home this is hitting,” said Colin Davis, a member of the Canton Church of the Brethren and an organizer of the forum. “At this point, this is not a partisan issue; it’s a human rights issue. We aim to show those around us how likely it is that someone close to them is being impacted and how they can help.”

Nearly $14 billion in bills have gone unpaid statewide, including $1.6 million to Canton Union School District #66. Spoon River College has received no state aid for FY17, and local social services organizations are being forced to take drastic measures just to keep their doors open. Reserve funds for the school district and other organizations are quickly being depleted.

“The inaction by Springfield politicians is ridiculous,” said Rolf Sivertsen, superintendent of Canton Union School District #66. “Each day, their unwillingness to compromise and pass a budget hurts our students, as well as our elderly and those who drastically need assistance to live with dignity.

Doors will open at 6 p.m. on June 12, with the forum beginning at 6:30 p.m. Representatives from

Canton Union School District #66, Spoon River College, local nursing homes and businesses, the Fulton-Mason Crisis Service, the Health and Wellness Connection, Lutheran Social Services, social workers, and CAMA will discuss the impacts to their clients.

The event is free and open to the public.

We hope that we can pull together enough people who are ready to say, ‘Enough is enough,’ said Sivertsen. “And, hopefully, together, we can convince Springfield to act before it’s truly too late.”

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