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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Gov hit for dumping gang-mediation funds

It's been in the news the past couple of weeks or so that the Governor wanted to use his line-item veto powers to cut "pork" or "earmarks" from the budget so that he can use that money to fund some of his health care iniatives. He even had a press conference with his ally Senate President Emil Jones who pledged to block any attempt to override Gov. Blagojevich's line-item vetos. BTW, I will provide links to the Capitol Fax Blog on the items that the Governor had vetoed.

Anyway from today's Sun-Times here is one the victims of these line-item vetoes...

Funding for an inner-city program that tries to defuse gang conflicts and reduce shootings was eliminated by Gov. Blagojevich as part of his budget cuts, drawing fierce criticism and warnings that violence will spike.

This week, Blagojevich cut $463 million from the state budget passed by the General Assembly, including $6.2 million for CeaseFire, whose workers negotiate conflicts between gang members in neighborhoods across the city.

"It's shocking the governor would do this," said state Rep. Harry Osterman (D-Chicago). "I look at this as a health care issue. The governor wants health care, and yet he is taking a program off the streets that has helped young people from getting shot."

Osterman said workers would likely be laid off early next week, just as students are returning to school and summer violence could spill into classrooms.
CeaseFire began in 2000 in Chicago but since has branched out into the suburbs.

It now runs on an $8 million budget, said CeaseFire executive director Gary Slutkin.

CeaseFire workers have mediated more than 900 conflicts over the last three years, the group's records show. In addition, CeaseFire employees work closely with gang members and their families to prevent future conflicts.

"Instead of remaining the important public safety initiative, [CeaseFire] became a political bargaining chip," Slutkin said.

Blagojevich said Friday in a statement that the state could not afford the program.

Related links
Capitol Fax Blog
Complete vetoes
Health and Human Services cuts
Fresh veto thread
This just in… Governor files veto message *** Message now online *** HGOPs spared the ax ***

CBS2Chicago
Questions Arise Over Governor's Budget Cuts

Chicago Tribune
Squabbling in full view

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