Transit Action Needed

On April 29, a group of Access Living staff and consumers were in Springfield to speak with legislators about proposed cuts to the Illinois State budget. In particular, the group spoke about transportation. Possible cuts to transportation would raise the price of a paratransit ride from $3 to $5 a ride, devastating the budget of low income people with disabilities.

Below is an action alert from Access Living’s Director of Advocacy, Amber Smock. The alert addresses transportation, and HR 344, which would eliminate the eligibility threat for people in the Home Services Programs.

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Dear Access Living Friend and Allies

First, some good news: House Resolution 344 passed through the House Human Services Committee yesterday, thanks to the hard work of many of you to educate legislators about the Determination of Need (DON) score problem. It is now able to be called for a vote on the House floor. Its companion bill, Senate Resolution 342, needs more sponsors, so we urge you to contact your Senators to sign onto that.

Next: as many of you know, the Governor’s budget proposal for next year includes massive cuts to public transit and paratransit in the Chicagoland area. If the cuts go through as proposed, there would be serious consequences for riders with disabilities, such as:

• Paratransit fare increase to $5 per ride
• Service cuts and fare increases on the CTA, Metra, and Pace
bus
• Program cuts at the RTA (which certifies paratransit and
provides travel training)
• Elimination of free/reduced rides for seniors and people with
disabilities

State legislators have been working on funding solutions for transit. State Representative Lou Lang (D-Skokie) fought to pass House Bill 3110, which would have ensured that airlines with headquarters outside the city of Chicago actually pay their jet fuel taxes to the RTA, which would have solved a lot of problems. However the airlines fought back and the bill died last week. Thus, we need to redouble our efforts.

Today’s challenge to you all is to ask you to take action at this link to send a quick email to State Representatives on the House Appropriations-Public Safety Committee. This committee is in charge of budgeting for transit, on the House side. With one email you will be able to contact all the committee members. It is very important that they know we are concerned! Be sure to take a moment to include your personal story in the email.

I hope we can get lots of emails to legislators today. We have a group of 20 Access Living advocates in Springfield today ready to help legislators know what it takes to live independently in the community. The struggle continues!

Amber Smock
Director of Advocacy, Access Living