Springfield protests demand Rauner stop starving social services... '...a state of exigency will start March 1 at Chicago State University if state funds are not secured...'

Protesters in Springfield. Substance photo provided by Ed Hershey.A contingent of 150 traveled from Chicago State University to Springfield yesterday to protest the Illinois politicians and their failure to pass a budget. The rally was organized in part by the school’s Student Government Association; the action follows a rally at the Thompson Center last Monday, and other actions that have been ongoing since last fall, including blocking I-94.

Chicago State receives about a third of its budget from state funds. To date, it has not received these funds due to the state budget standoff between Rauner and the Democrats in the state assembly. Chicago State serves a largely working class and black student body, many of whose members work or are going back to school. The school does not have a large endowment, and thus it has been the hardest hit by the budget impasse.

Chicago State business major Eboney Goines, a member of the Student Government Association who helped to organize the rally, said “this is not our first trip to Springfield,” though it was the largest so far this year. She said their contingent was part of a larger group from Illinois State Universities protesting for funds. She said there were representatives from Eastern Illinois, Western Illinois, Southern Illinois and Governors State in a crowd of over three hundred. CSU president Calhoun traveled to Springfield as well.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner's sociopathic "Atlas Shrugged" versions of reality are hitting young people who are hard working but not as privileged as Rauner and his family. Photo provided by Ed Hershey.Calhoun started the year with $9 million in reserve funds. He has declared a “state of exigency”, which will start March 1st if state funds are not secured. “Exigency” will mean massive cuts in programs and staff, though he states that the school will remain open and finish the semester. Eastern Illinois University recently announced 198 layoffs to take place March 12th, if state funding does not come through. Illinois is not broke – it is one of the wealthier states in this country, which is itself the wealthiest in history. But the capitalist politicians who run this state are starving necessary services – like education and social welfare programs – in service of their competing political agendas.

The protesters came to the state capitol on February 17, 2016, after the Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, had stalled a state budget for the longest time in history, slowly depriving many of the state's public services -- including state universities -- of funding.

According to students who participated in the event, about 150 students from Chicago State University and elsewhere were among those who went to protest the governor's latest budget address. They noted that although Rauner says he wants to improve education in Illinois, his actions have threatened educational services for many of the state's working class and poor students. Rauner's attempts to force what he calls "turnaround" on the state is actually an attack on the collective bargaining rights of teachers across Illinois, with the Chicago Teachers Union being a particular target.

In addition to the narrative, the students provided a video which is available at:


Last week, a reporter said to Gov. Bruce Rauner that Secretary of State Jesse White had suggested that Rauner bring in former governors, including George Ryan, to help break the long governmental impasse that has prevented the state from having a budget for over seven months.

Rauner laughed and said, "Uh, wow."

The governor clearly did not take the suggestion seriously.

"I'm not gonna talk about the failures of the past that created this mess," Rauner said through chuckles.

"I focus on the future. I don't live in the past. We've had failure in our elected government for decades. This mess didn't happen overnight. And what we're not gonna do is reproduce the dynamic that created it." The governor laughed throughout most of that last sentence.

Bringing in graybeards has been tried before without success. Gov. Rod Blagojevich asked former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert and then-Southern Illinois University President Glenn Poshard to town to help him pass his massive construction proposal that Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan refused to agree to. It didn't work. The two men left town as soon as they realized how hardened Madigan's position had become against Blagojevich.

While former governors have been through similar troubles, nothing really compares to today's self-inflicted disaster. Madigan and Blagojevich played hardball, but the game is exponentially meaner now.

And, besides, what would the former governors say or do that could make a difference? They'd probably advise Rauner to cut a deal that doesn't bash unions. But our governor seems wholly uninterested in doing such a thing.

The simple fact is that nothing—nothing—will change until Madigan and Rauner decide it will.

Madigan's long history clearly shows he forces the other side to negotiate against itself until he believes they're close enough to his position. Rauner has clearly not moved far enough away from anti-union proposals and things like term limits for Madigan's taste.

And Rauner, for his part, seems fed up with the whole process and has taken to issuing repeated dire warnings of political consequences to Madigan's Democratic members if they continue backing the speaker.

But as we saw not long ago, when rank-and-file Senate Democrats rejected the pension reform compromise negotiated by Senate President John Cullerton (even though a majority of that caucus had voted for a very similar bill a couple of years earlier), most Democratic legislators are in no mood to work out a deal, either, and continue to insist that the governor come to the table and finally agree to a budget instead.

Despite claims by right wing think tanks like the so-called "Illinois Policy Institute" that Illinois taxes are driving people out of the state, the policies of the governor and his fascists supporters are really at the bottom of the crisis for most young people in Illinois. Late Feb. 4, Chicago State University officially declared a "financial exigency," which could lead to the reduction of tenured faculty and drastic reductions in programs in order to save the school from closure. The state's only majority black university had already announced last month that it would run out of money to pay salaries in early March.

CSU gets more than a third of its funding from the state, more than all but one other four-year public university in Illinois. But the governor has publicly complained that taxpayers have been throwing Chicago State's money "down the toilet" and wants drastic reforms. For now, anyway, the Democrats are staying on the sidelines and loudly pointing fingers at Rauner.

The governor has been talking about his grand plan for years, long before he was elected.

He never made it a major campaign issue, but it's clear from looking at his past statements that he believes Democrats will eventually side against the unions and with social service agencies (and places like the CSU campus and the Chicago Public Schools) if he can, in his own words, "drive a wedge" into the party. The object is to make the Democrats choose between money for their pet causes or union rights. He's shut off the money, but he hasn't yet driven that wedge.

That's probably why Rauner looked like he was attempting to tank the Chicago Public Schools' bond sale last week with loud demands that it should go bankrupt and be taken over by the state. Without that bond sale, the school system would've been in danger of shutting down.

The object here appears to be to create so much chaos that the Democrats finally start negotiating in order to save all the programs and institutions they've been building for decades.

So far, that isn't happening, but the real chaos is yet to come. We've seen smaller social service agencies close, we've seen larger agencies shut down vital programs, but so far nothing huge has happened.

It'll probably take the “death” of something very important and very large to test this theory.


February 20, 2016 at 4:28 PM

By: Margaret Wilson

Springfield Protest

I can't understand why there isn't a push to impeach the governor. He clearly doesn't want to do what is in the best interest of the city or state and doesn't need to be in a position where he can continue to hurt people.

February 25, 2016 at 12:21 PM

By: Wynona Pyrtel

Chicago State Students Protest

Students at Chicago State are dedicated to their education. They deserve a university committed to their future. It is imperative that they are supported by the state and that funds are released so they may continue their efforts in preparing themselves to be the leaders of the future!

Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

4 + 4 =