What was supposed to be an information session about breast cancer awareness turned into an opportunity to bash Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner after women’s health advocates accused him of ignoring cuts to screening programs caused by the budget impasse.
Before Rauner even began taking questions in his latest Facebook Live chat Wednesday, critics announced they would have a dueling online event to highlight the damage they say has been caused by a lack of state funding. They even took issue with the way Rauner solicited inquiries, which featured a photo of his dog Stella wearing a pink ribbon and declaring, “Stella is doing her part to raise awareness and we are, too.”
“Frankly, I find that insulting. Illinois women need access to lifesaving screening services, not photographs of family pets,” said Beulah Brent, board president of Sisters Working It Out, a Chicago-based group focused on outreach in African-American communities where breast cancer mortality rates are high.
The exchange underscores the tricky political position Rauner finds himself in as the state enters a 17th month without a complete budget. While neither the GOP governor nor Democrats who control the General Assembly have budged enough to reach an agreement, Rauner has taken the brunt of the blame from social service groups that rely on tax dollars.
OK, wait. Stella is a fine dog and she’s Oscar’s friend. Let’s not bash her. And I really don’t see a problem with using her to advertise what was supposed to be an uncontroversial Facebook event. It was a decent bit of spin, though.
Anyway, what the governor just doesn’t seem to always comprehend is that while he might personally support the fight against breast cancer (or whatever other causes he contributes money to), he’s also the governor and that means he takes the heat for the cuts to those programs. And I’ll bet he gave far more money to campaigns the past few years than he gave to charity - which clearly demonstrates that he believes that government is, indeed, at the center of all this.
The solution is a comprehensive, balanced state budget, Rauner said.
“To do that, we need reforms to grow our economy because we can’t have government spending … growing way faster than the pace of growth for our economy,” he said. “It’s unsustainable.” […]
The Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force also took to Facebook on Wednesday with a video response to the governor’s event.
“While it’s important for us to … balance the budget, it’s important for us to do reform, all of these things, a balanced budget should not come at the cost of a woman’s life,” said Teena Francois-Blue, associate director of community initiatives and research for the task force.
In 2014, the deficit was falling.
What changed? A partially expired income tax hike and no real state budget.
Yes, there would still be problems if the Democrats hadn’t allowed the tax hike to expire. The economy was growing in 2014, but we obviously needed (and still need) far more growth to sustain spending. The tax hike didn’t totally solve the state’s fiscal problems, but it did make those problems far more manageable. Today’s problems are far less manageable without that revenue and without a real budget.