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Evanston residents, NU students discuss budget cuts at sixth annual Lobby Day

State+Sen.+Daniel+Biss+addressed+Evanston+citizens%2C+city+officials+and+members+of+Northwestern+Associated+Student+Government+during+Evanston+Lobby+Day+in+Springfield%2C+Illinois.+Throughout+the+day%2C+participants+are+invited+to+speak+with+representatives+from+the+state+legislature+about+issues+they+feel+are+pertinent+to+Evanston.
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Evanston residents, NU students discuss budget cuts at sixth annual Lobby Day

State Sen. Daniel Biss addressed Evanston citizens, city officials and members of Northwestern Associated Student Government during Evanston Lobby Day in Springfield, Illinois. Throughout the day, participants are invited to speak with representatives from the state legislature about issues they feel are pertinent to Evanston.

State Sen. Daniel Biss addressed Evanston citizens, city officials and members of Northwestern Associated Student Government during Evanston Lobby Day in Springfield, Illinois. Throughout the day, participants are invited to speak with representatives from the state legislature about issues they feel are pertinent to Evanston.

Source: Jane Grover

State Sen. Daniel Biss addressed Evanston citizens, city officials and members of Northwestern Associated Student Government during Evanston Lobby Day in Springfield, Illinois. Throughout the day, participants are invited to speak with representatives from the state legislature about issues they feel are pertinent to Evanston.

Source: Jane Grover

Source: Jane Grover

State Sen. Daniel Biss addressed Evanston citizens, city officials and members of Northwestern Associated Student Government during Evanston Lobby Day in Springfield, Illinois. Throughout the day, participants are invited to speak with representatives from the state legislature about issues they feel are pertinent to Evanston.

Julia Jacobs, Assistant City Editor

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City leaders and community members traveled to Springfield Tuesday to discuss with state politicians issues pertinent to Evanston, including recent proposed budget cuts that will affect the city.

About 50 people including city residents, Northwestern students, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and University President Morton Schapiro traveled to Springfield for the the Sixth Annual Evanston Lobby Day. The group spent time in discussions with State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) and Gov. Bruce Rauner, whose proposed budget would cut Evanston’s Local Government Distributive Fund by 50 percent, losing the city about $3.75 million from its general funds, said Ylda Capriccioso, the city’s intergovernmental affairs coordinator.

“We’re really bringing those people down to Springfield so that the governor can see the cuts that he’s proposed will have an impact on these people that you see here with us today,” Capriccioso said. “They live here, they work here, and so our main mission was to drive that message.”

It was clear from conversations with Democratic politicians such as Biss that they were opposed to Rauner’s budget cuts, said Elaine Kemna-Irish, executive director of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce. There was no clear answer on how state politicians would help manage the effects of those cuts, she said. What was clear to Kemna-Irish was the newfound Republican influence in the capitol.

“It’s good that there are Republican voices because when you have diverse voices sometimes you make better decisions in the long run and it makes people realize that… the vote really counts,” Kemna-Irish said.

Lack of funding for education in the state was one of the main focuses during the group’s discussion with Rauner, said Gretchen Livingston, president of the District 202 board. Livingston went to Lobby Day with the intention of sharing with legislators criticisms of the “ill-conceived” Senate bill that would lose the combined two Evanston school districts $6 million to $8 million per year, she said.

Other city officials who attended included representatives from Evanston’s business district, the parks and recreation board and the health department, Capriccioso said.

Five students from NU’s Associated Student Government who went to the state capitol with the group were able to touch on campus-related topics, such as sustainability initiatives, said Kenny Mok, ASG vice president of B-status finances. They discussed the recent coal divestment referendum with the director of the environmental protection agency, he said. However, the bulk of their time was spent observing and supporting discussion of Evanston issues, he said.

“We really got to talk to (city officials) all day and see them ask questions to legislators,” Mok said. “A lot of the things we do in ASG support Evanston, things like the Divvy bikes that we’re working on … We’re always in talks with Evanston about these issues.”

But one of the most important parts of the trip happens outside the capitol, Ald. Jane Grover (7th) said. Most of the community building happened on the bus ride to and from Springfield, she said.

“A lot of good stuff happens on that bus,” Grover said. “Three hours down, three hours back. It’s getting to know everybody from all walks of Evanston.”

Email: juliajacobs2018@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @juliarebeccaj

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