CHICAGO — A West Side church is calling for compassion in the state budget for young members like 11-year-old Nathaniel Fuquay. Cerebral palsy has confined Fuquay to a wheel chair, and the many needs associated with his condition makes him entirely dependent on his mom, Nicole.
Nicole, a single mother of three, is dependent on a monthly state check for just more than $700. It’s a disability payment that may go away if Governor Rauner’s proposed budget becomes a reality.
“I’m a stay at home mom,” Nicole said. “I need the extra funds to help get him back and forth to school and for the necessities we need.”
With Illinois facing a $1.7 billion budget shortfall this year, Governor Rauner is pushing for cuts that would make it harder for the elderly and the disabled to qualify for home care.
$1.5 billion could be slashed from Medicaid. Department of Human Services spending could be reduced by more than $500 million. Because those big numbers may seem hard to grasp, Nicole is asking the governor to consider individual lives
“I want him to know that my son does need help,” Nicole said. “Think about the little ones.”
Resurrected Life Church Center is one of several African-American congregations passing a petition to urger Governor Rauner to reconsider.
“There was a poet who was a member of our church who wrote a poem that said somebody better say something before it’s too late,” said pastor Ray Berryhill.
Berryhill and other clergy have requested meetings with the governor, requests that they say are ignored.
“It’s going to be tragic for our people,” Berryhill said. “Who wants to see mentally ill people walking down anybody’s street. It’s unnecessary. It’s unsafe. It’s unconscionable.”
Meanwhile, Nicole is trying to devise a plan B to get by. Because she says working outside the home is not feasible, her 15-year-old son, Davion, is attempting to instead.
"Lately, I’ve been trying to get a job in case something like that does happen for extra support,” Davion said.
The office of Governor Rauner sent this statement to WGN in response to today’s church gathering:
"Difficult decisions have to be made because Mike Madigan and the legislators he controls passed a budget with a $4 billion hole while refusing any real reforms to increase jobs or make government more effective for the people it serves. Sadly, Mike Madigan and the legislators he controls are more interested in protecting the political class than the middle class and those who need our help."