There are many children and widows in Illinois being held hostage by lawmakers after their police or firefighter husbands made the ultimate sacrifice.
One such hero is McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy Dwight Maness. 19 months after his death, his widow is fighting to stay financially above water while Gov. Rauner and Mike Madigan dangled a balanced budget over her head.
To all who knew him, Dwight was an incredible guy. He always had a smile on his face, loved to ride with his wife, loved life and his family.
Two weeks before Dwight and his wife Sue were to celebrate their third wedding anniversary, and two weeks after Dwight turned 47, he died from a pulmonary embolism linked to a shooting nearly a year earlier.
In 2014, Dwight and his partner were ambushed by a man armed with an automatic rifle when they went to his home for a well-being check. Dwight and his partner received the Medal of Honor and the law enforcement purple heart for their bravery.
But after multiple surgeries and extensive rehab, Dwight was on the path to recovery. He and Sue were optimistic.
But 11 months after that horrific day, Dwight died while in a pool for water therapy.
And now on top of the incredible grief Sue is going through, she also has mounting bills and the fear of losing her home. It is all because the state can’t release the $350,000 owed her from a Line of Duty Compensation fund. It’s not that the money isn’t in there, it just can’t be given to the wife of a fallen hero until Rauner and the state legislators resolve their budget issues.
“We gave the ultimate sacrifice. Where’s the help?” Sue says.
House Democratic leader Mike Madigan said the situation is caught up in the hostage-taking by Rauner. The Republican governor said the state should honor any promised payments to these families but says they can’t be paid until the general assembly passes a balanced budget.
Terry Roderick from the Illinois Chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors has been working with the law enforcement families. There are four statewide who are waiting for funds. That doesn’t include the widows of firefighters.
In the meantime, Sue says none of the lawmakers who have the power to change her situation are on the verge of losing their homes or paying their mortgages and bills or sending their kids to college. There are even funeral bills that havent been paid yet.
“My husband would be horrified,” she says.
Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s spokesperson tells WGN News the governor and state legislators could easily agree to release the funds but it’s not a priority. In 2015, the senate passed legislation to appropriate the funds to these families but it was stopped in the House.