Poverty Gains in US, Guv cand Whitney (G-IL) Calls on Illinois Programs to Stay in Force

Picture of Rich Whitney, Green Party candidate...

Rich Whitney

Illinois Green Party governor candidate Rich Whitney called on Illinois anti-poverty programs to stay in place to provide essential assistance to low-income people in the state. Whitney explained that “fighting poverty and assisting people without access to health care, food or even basic subsistence income is an essential function of state government.”

Whitney’s statement comes just as a new Census Bureau report says one in seven Americans are now living in poverty. The Census Bureau annual report for 2009 said 14.3 percent or 43.6 million Americans are in poverty. In 2008, 13.2 percent or 39.8 million people were in poverty. The new figures are the highest since the 1960s for the United States. Illinois weighed in at a 13.2 percent poverty rate.

Whitney added that “now is not the time to be cutting vital social programs as Bill Brady has advocated or Pat Quinn has done as governor. Instead, we need a public sector that can help people get on their feet and help them find gainful employment. We need a public sector that can provide some job opportunities directly, but more importantly, help the private sector create additional opportunities that also serve the public good. For that to happen, we must fix our regressive, broken tax and budget system in Illinois and fix it fast.”

“This means that those who have not shouldered their fair share of the burden for funding social services, education, public safety and other core functions of government have to begin doing so. We also need a state bank to extend credit where needed to get the productive parts of our economy moving, and a Green Capital Bill to provide new employment opportunities in clean energy and sustainable transportation — which will also help businesses and consumers save money.”

Rich Whitney is a 55-year-old civil rights and employment lawyer from Carbondale. As a lawyer, he has fought for working people who have lost their jobs or had their rights violated. A founder of the Illinois Green Party, he has long been politically active in support of the labor, health-care reform, environmental, civil rights, and peace movements. In 2006, he served as the Green Party’s first candidate for Governor, winning over 360,000 votes and making it possible for Illinois voters to have a third choice on the ballot statewide.

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