Letters

Illinois jobless have suffered from Pritzker's political games

Posted: Sep. 13, 2020 12:40 am

Unemployed Illinoisans are at a disadvantage when it comes to federal unemployment dollars, and they have the governor to blame for it simply because he decided to play politics with the federal government rather than secure funds through the Lost Wages Act. This new federal program provides an additional $300 a week to those who have experienced a COVID-19 related job loss.

There is a total of up to $44 billion available in the program, which is up for grabs by the states on a first-come-first-served basis. However, amid the bickering, the governor's administration failed to promptly apply to the program and as a result, Illinois was only approved this month. Not only did the governor's procrastination put Illinoisans behind those in other states who are receiving payments, but they are now left to also wait for on the troubled Illinois Department of Employment Security to issue these payments.

For someone who often says he is looking out for our most vulnerable, this is quite the contradiction.

While in the midst of the governor's feud with the federal government over this program, here in Illinois we continue to see our own unemployment system in shambles and unable to meet our constituents' needs. 

We are six months into the pandemic, and "call backs" at the Illinois Department of Employment Security either aren't happening or take several weeks, staff isn't properly trained to handle the issues, or the calls that do get answered are unproductive and solve little to nothing.

Despite months of pleas from legislators all around the state, things have yet to improve and our constituents are fed up. The lack of response by the administration is unacceptable. 

While all these issues within IDES remain here in Illinois, it seems quite hypocritical for the governor to poke holes and critique the federal government when his own department continues to operate in a state of dysfunction. Illinois hasn't even been able to properly handle getting the first round of federal benefits out of the door, yet the governor has the audacity to complain about the way the federal government is providing the second round of benefits. 

The irony of it all may seem comical, but we can assure you it isn't for the thousands of Illinoisans who are relying on these benefits. 

Enough of the political games, governor. Real lives are being impacted.

Don DeWitte, state senator, 33rd District

Jil Tracy, state senator, 47th District

Brian Stewart, state senator, 45th District

Chuck Weaver, state senator, 37th District