In the past year, CJE SeniorLife and Jewish Child and Family Services made painful decisions to close highly successful, long-standing state-funded programs because the reimbursement rates -- frozen since 2009 -- were too low. Human service agencies across the state are also exiting programs because they can't cover the costs of delivering the services.
Hoping to push Illinois lawmakers toward a bipartisan budget compromise that protects reimbursement rates for human services, 45 Jewish Federation community and agency leaders traveled to Springfield with the Jewish Federation's Government Affairs Committee on May 9 and 10.
Also on the agenda for Springfield mission was support for two pieces of hate crime legislation. Government Affairs Committee members were brought up to speed on the alarming increase in acts of anti-Semitism in a recent ADL report, which was the focus of conversation at a meeting at the Jewish Federation on April 24 .
One key piece of hate crime legislation is H.B. 3711, which expands the definition of a hate crime to address the modern reality that harmful conduct fueled by hate occurs everywhere, including online. In response to the spike in hate crimes nationwide, the bill was drafted by the office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan with Rep. Litesa Wallace as the chief sponsor in the House and Sen. Omar Aquino as chief sponsor in the Senate. This bill has passed the House (89-22) and the Senate Criminal Law Committee (7-2-1) and will now be debated on the Senate floor.
Also on the list is H.B. 4011, which would provide emergency funding for security grants and is sponsored by Rep. Lou Lang in the House and Sen. Ira Silverstein in the Senate. Both bills can be read at www.ilga.gov
During the trip, the delegation met privately in small groups with the governor, the speaker, the comptroller, the Senate president, the Senate Republican leader, the House Republican leader, and more than 34 legislators.
"The leaders listened closely as we outlined the critical challenges facing Federation agencies," said David Golder, chair of the Government Affiairs Committee. "Everyone wants a solution and we urged them not to give up, but to keep talking."