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Local

NIU rally ahead of Gov. Bruce Rauner's visit calls for restored funding

DeKALB –The state needs to get its fiscal act together because college students, domestic violence victims and low-income working families are among those hurt by the state not having a budget, participants at a rally held at Northern Illinois University said Thursday.

NIU’s student senate hosted the demonstration in the MLK Commons outside the Holmes Student Center where Gov. Bruce Rauner would later speak at an economic development event.

Students from Elmhurst College, Governors State University, Chicago State University, College of DuPage and other regional higher education institutions, along with workers and clients from DeKalb area social service agencies were among the attendees.

Dillan Domke, speaker of the NIU Student Senate, said the demonstration was nonpartisan and more about urging lawmakers and the governor to come up with a state budget – especially one that includes funding the state’s child care subsidy program for low wage-earning families and the Monetary Award Program that helps low income students pay for college.

“I’m one of 731 who will not be able to engage themselves fully on our campus without MAP grant funding,” said Grace Bellion, president of the Student Government Association at Elmhurst College. “We are the future, and we need the state to keep investing in our futures so we can be empowered to become the next generation of leaders.

“Politicians are forcing domestic violence victims back to their abusers,” read the sign that Lynnea Erickson held at the rally. She is an abuse intervention services coordinator at DeKalb County-based Safe Passage, a nonprofit agency that assists victims of domestic violence.

Although the rally didn’t take a political side, Erickson said the governor, ultimately, is responsible for the the state’s budget impasse. She blames the state not having a budget for social agencies losing funding, cutting services and, in come cases, closing.

“The governor is holding social services hostage to negotiate the deal he wants for business,” she said.

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