Gov.'s $150 million anti-violence plan

Where would the money come from?
May 6, 2008 3:55:09 PM PDT
Governor Rod Blagojevich announced a $150-million initiative to fight youth violence in Chicago and across Illinois on Tuesday. The governor said the plan is in direct response to the recent surge in deadly violence on Chicago's streets and the money would go to deteriorating neighborhoods and school programs. Now, some are wondering where the money will come at a time when the state is struggling to balance a budget.

"You're not just the audience, your part of the army to end this violence and stop the killing," said Gov. Blagojevich.

Gov. Blagojevich spoke at a West Side Boys and Girls Club where the audience understands the price of violence and the need for jobs. They welcome what the governor calls the beginning of a crusade.

"We're just asking for $150 million so we can provide 20,000 summer jobs, 20,000 summer jobs for our kids," said Gov. Blagojevich.

So where would the money for summer jobs, after school programs and neighborhood improvements come from? According to the governor, it'd be funded by money from a proposed $25 billion Illinois Works Capital plan. The problem- that's just a plan without the votes right now.

"We're not down there twiddling our thumbs. We're supposed to be down there saving lives and impacting people like you," said Ken Duncan.

The governor's plan has some legislative support, but others call it a pipe dream and wonder how the governor-- who cut $6 million from CeaseFire, an anti-violence program, last year because of lack of funding-- could call for a $150 million anti-violence effort now?

"That's why I'm baffled because they cut us out of the budget, and we're proven to work in the state of Illinois," said Tio Hardiman, CeaseFire.

Surrounded by cameras, the governor made his announcement without stopping to answer questions-- though he did field a few on his way out the door. His press secretary later said the Governor's plan is comprehensive and that would not close the door on funding Operation Cease Fire.

"We've heard so many promises over the years from that administration and from the governor, in particular, relative to these great ideas--potentially, in concept-- but nonetheless ideas that never materialize and end up being empty promises. I would certainly hope that this would not be one of those empty promises," said State Rep. Susana Mendoza, D-Chicago.

Mendoza and other legislators said despite the noble components to the governor's initiative, the details have not been explained and there is not much time remaining in the spring session to reach agreement on such a huge capital plan.


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