April 23, 2015
More than fifty leaders from the Chicago Jewish community, including representatives from the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago and its affiliate agencies participated in the annual Government Affairs Springfield Mission April 15-16.
Representatives from Jewish Child and Family Services, CJE SeniorLife, KESHET, HIAS, and Sinai Health System made their organizations' needs heard in the capital.
"Throughout our community, there was a very strong interest in bringing our voice to Springfield," said Steve Greenbaum, state vice chair of the JUF Government Affairs Committee. "With the potential impact proposed budget cuts could have on the Jewish Federation's network of agencies, people were especially interested in meeting our new governor, key members of his administration, and our elected legislators to express community and agency concerns."
The Springfield Mission kicked off with lunchtime speakers Richard Goldberg, director of legislative affairs for the governor and Jennifer Hammer, special counsel to the governor and policy advisor to Healthcare and Family Services. Afterward, the Mission divided into five lobbying groups spanning the capital to meet with more than 25 legislators, members of the administration, State Treasurer Michael Frerichs and Assistant Comptroller Josh Potts. This included lengthy meetings with all four leaders: Senate President John Cullerton, Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno, Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, and House Republican Leader Jim Durkin.
" Being in Springfield was eye-opening and empowering," said Pam Szokol, chair of the HHS Commission and JUF Board member. "In our personal conversations with the very political leaders who will decide the fate of state funding for health and human services, we talked about what closing agency programs means."
Conversations continued into the cocktail hour when legislators stopped by the Sangamo Club. Members of the Jewish caucus, State Senators Daniel Biss, Julie Morrison and Ira Silverstein and State Representatives Kelly Cassidy, Scott Drury, Sara Feigenholtz, Laura Fine, Jack Franks, Robyn Gabel, Will Guzzardi, Lou Lang and Elaine Nekritz were among the visitors.
The trip ended with the statewide Yom HaShoah Commemoration at the Old State Capital with Governor Bruce Rauner and Rep. Guzzardi, the newest Jewish Member of the Illinois State Legislature.
"We had energized participants in front of the right people with the right message," said David Golder, chair of the Government Affairs Committee and JUF Board Member, reflecting during the bus ride back to Chicago. "As you might expect, the response on both sides of the aisle was one of frustration. The General Assembly is struggling to develop a process to work with the Administration. This is really only a beginning to this conversation. Exceptional energy will be required from JUF community leaders and staff alike between now and when a budget is ultimately approved."