Chicago community activists and local elected officials delivered 88,000 petition signatures to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) regional office Thursday morning, urging the agency to investigate complex financial agreements called interest rate swaps.
Those who delivered the petition signatures, collected online by the Grassroots Collaborative and several other organizations, say cash-strapped local and state governments are being squeezed by the "toxic swaps" they entered into with banks before the Great Recession. The complicated deals, which come with hefty penalties and termination fees, were intended to save taxpayer-backed organizations money, but they backfired when the economy crashed.
The state owes the agency, which has been operating on bank credit during the more than seven-monthlong budget impasse, approximately $1 million for services that have been performed since July 1, the start of the current fiscal year.
Family Home Service's Director Marsha Holmes told reporters Tuesday morning that the agency has exhausted its line of credit and cannot obtain another loan. If the current budget situation continues much longer, Family Home Service could be forced to shut down, Holmes said.
"Our elderly and disabled population rely on our workers. They don't want to face uncertainty," Holmes said at Family Home Service's offices, 1040 W. Huron St. "What happens if they have to face uncertainty if our doors happen to close? They have built relationships with their home care workers. That is why a stable workforce is so important in this home care industry."
State Rep. Arthur Turner (D-Chicago) called Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposed budget a "doomsday situation" that is compounded by a $1.6 billion shortfall from former Gov. Pat Quinn's underfunded FY2015 budget.
In February, Rauner proposed sweeping cuts to the state's Medicaid program, higher education, mass transit and government pensions to address the state's financial woes. The cuts aimed to combat a $6 billion deficit for fiscal year 2016, which begins in July 1, and the state's $111 billion pension crisis. But critics of Rauner's budget plan say those cuts adversely affect the poor and middle class families.
"It's gonna be tough," said Turner, who held a town hall meeting Monday night to discuss the impact Rauner's proposed cuts could have on the state. More than 30 residents attended the meeting held at Mt. Sinai Community Institute, 2653 W. Ogden Ave.