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Illinois residents go hungry for budget justice

img_1833Calling themselves Hungry for Justice, five people went on hunger strike last Wednesday in Springfield to protest budget cuts that Illinois legislators have proposed to address the state’s $12 billion deficit. According to the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), if passed, the new budget would destroy critical state programs, including:

  • Addiction prevention and treatment (428,000 individuals served)
  • Health care assistance for children (300,000 children served)
  • Mental health programs (250,000 individuals served)
  • Child care assistance for working parents (167,000 children served)

After growing weak on the third day of the fast, 87-year-old Mahaley Somerville was hospitalized on Friday, but hoped to return to the action if her doctor approved.

The group planned on continuing their hunger strike through last Sunday, when a vote on the budget was expected to take place. However, tensions between the Democratic Governor Pat Quinn and Republican state representatives over proposed tax increases and funding cuts has delayed an agreement.  Hungry for Justice has not announced what they plan to do next.