“I want to thank Governor Rauner for listening to President Preckwinkle and myself, Cook County Commissioner Stanley Moore Chairman of Law Enforcement, by taking action to end this horrible practice of Automatic Transfer of Juveniles to Adult Court.”
Not the typical quote one would expect to see on the Facebook page of a Democratic Cook County Board Commissioner, especially when Governor Rauner is a Republican locked in a battle of egos with the undisputed champion of Democratic politics, Illinois Speaker of the House Mike Madigan. It is also a quote that one would not expect to see from a Black Democrat, especially when Democrats are holding Rauner accountable for devastating Rauner has tied his funding of those services to reforms such as empowerment zones and repealing the prevailing wage laws that he says would, “allow people to work in their own communities.” Democratic leaders have maintained that those changes would decimate the middle class, so they have dug their heels in for the long fight, leaving the Black social service community to wait and wonder on the outcome.
In the meantime, Rauner continues to sign legislation that benefits the Black community, whether it was ground breaking legislation like Senate Bill 1304, which provided the framework to make Illinois the first state in the nation to fund body cameras, and lesser known legislation like Senate Bill 1847, which expands SNAP benefits for Illinois residents. While the legislation Rauner has signed is not specifically for Black people, their impact on the Black community cannot be denied.
That would not be the last time Black lawmakers found themselves commending Rauner for bills he has chosen to sign. When Rauner signed HB 172, ending the automatic transfer of juveniles to adult detention without judicial review, Cook County Commissioner Stanley Moore thanked Rauner for signing the bill, even while naysayers whispered that Rauner owned companies have invested in private prisons.
In the midst of what was supposed to be a state shutdown, Rauner signed House Bill 3673, which provided funding for state workers and schools. By signing this bill, Rauner allowed approximately $5 billion in funds to pass through state government to open schools and make sure that state employees were able to receive their paychecks. Funding CPS allowing it to open its doors were particularly important to Black people. A closed CPS would put a tremendous strain on the Black families that those schools serve. And with the status of childcare funding in limbo until the budget impasse is settled, the impact of closing schools would have a compounded effect in the Black community.
The budget impasse aside, Governor Rauner has shown the willingness to sign bills into law that address some of the most pressing issues in the Black community. While legislators may not agree with his budget, Rauner is demonstrating his willingness to confront some longstanding challenges in the Black community the best way he knows how. The question remains if Black legislators will keep sending him the bills that are most important to the Black community.