lightford lbc budegtstory dec2015On Monday, the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus discussed a telling report detailing how the budget impasse is disproportionately affecting the black community. African-Americans make up nearly 15 percent of the population, yet 30 percent live in poverty.
There are four areas of interest that have the greatest impact on the most vulnerable populations in the black community: a lack of early childhood education, violence, lost MAP grant funding and senior concerns. These issues concentrate economic loss directly in communities where black people reside.

“The media constantly reports on how young black men and women are killed in Chicago almost daily, and that is extremely alarming,” said Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Chair Kimberly A. Lightford. “Perhaps if we were funding violence prevention and after-school programs at an adequate level, then our children would have an alternative to the streets.”

The report outlines how the budget impasse is positioning the next generation of leaders for failure. Without funding for MAP grants, thousands of first-generation African-American students won’t have an opportunity to attend or continue their education.

“Minority students are disproportionately low-income,” Representative Will Davis said. “MAP grants help close the achievement gap between low-income black and white students.”

During the press conference, Black Caucus members called on the governor to stop forcing his extreme political ideology on the most vulnerable in our community.

“If the governor’s aim is to make Illinois more appealing to businesses, allowing our credit rating to sink isn’t exactly the most attractive selling point,” said state senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields).

Attached is the released report detailing in what ways African-Americans are adversely affected by the state’s budget impasse.

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Stuck Salt Truck on Lake Shore drive Chicago storm resizeMonday, I voted to free up $3.1 billion in spending to sustain local communities, including crucial motor fuel tax revenue, which has been held up by the budget impasse in Springfield. My colleagues and I proved our resolve to make sure families and local governments have the money to continue functioning without a true budget in place.

Now, we must shift our focus to what remains to be budgeted, prioritizing higher education and critical community services, such as mental health and homeless programs. We have more work to do.

The legislation releases motor fuel tax revenue for communities throughout Cook County – communities such as Bellwood, Maywood, North Riverside, Westchester, Oak Park and River Forest – that can be used to prepare for winter storms and repair potholes. The exact dollar amount of how much communities are owed this year has not yet been released, but communities throughout Cook County received nearly $100 million in gas tax money last year.

Though, other areas of concern that have yet to be dealt with in the piecemeal budget process include MAP grant funding and other scholarships, services for rape victims, addiction treatment, immigrant language translation services, Teen Reach, epilepsy services and respite care.

Although we are taking important steps for local communities, thousands of families are still going without the services and resources they need.

Still, the legislation (SB 2039), which now goes to the governor’s desk for final approval, does include the following components.

• $582.5 million to IDOT for local governments share of motor fuel gas tax revenues

• $77 million for 911-related costs

• $1 billion to the Lottery for prizes

• $43 million to the Community College Board for career and technical education activities

• $31 million to IDOT to purchase road salt

• $2.5 million for breast cancer services and research

• $165 million for home heating bill assistance

Read the legislation in its entirety. Get more information at

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Senator Lightford had the great pleasure of  attending the graduation ceremony of this semester's Kimberly A. Lightford Saturday University students. In partnership with The Black Star Project, Senator Lightford sponsors this community-based program, which is a free comprehensive learning system that provides opportunities for students, parents and community agencies to take control of and improve academic outcomes. Saturday University focuses on implementing active learning techniques and features math, reading and writing courses taught by committed and engaged instructors. The students received outstanding achievement certificates and awards for accomplishments achieved throughout the semester.

See photos from the students' graduation ceremony below.

saturday u 2015 grad 3saturday u 2015 grad 4

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