Illinoisans with developmental disabilities and mental illness deserve better. They deserve to be able to purchase necessary items like hygiene products, bus tickets and clothes each month. Many are currently funding these needs on an allowance of a dollar a day.

I sponsored legislation, Senate Bill 1353, to increase the personal needs allowance for individuals living in facilities that support the mentally ill and developmentally disabled to $60 per month. I urge Gov. Bruce Rauner to sign this measure as soon as it reaches his desk.

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For me, this issue boils down to a question of dignity and a question of how we as a state value our most vulnerable citizens. I believe it is our duty as lawmakers to support all Illinoisans, especially those in need. This legislation is a small line of the budget, but will have a huge impact on those it’s designed to serve.

The personal needs allowance in Illinois has not been increased since it was set in 1987. According to ONE Northside, a community organization in my district, 45 other states have increased this allowance since then. As our state moves forward, we must extend a hand and help the most vulnerable in our population move forward with us.

Give these individuals a renewed sense of dignity.

Sen. Heather A. Steans, D-Chicago

How did we get here?

One of the most painful comments I have ever heard my husband say is “I am glad I am as old as I am.” My husband cares about people. Yet, too often I hear him say those words.

In terms of the Senate GOP Health Care Bill, the Sun-Times editorial from June 22 stated: “It’s the same old hit on the elderly,” “It’s the same old ravaging of Medicaid,” “Do not plan on getting old.”

How did we get here? How did many of our politicians lose their humanity and purpose to serve those who are in greatest need? How did many American voters lose empathy for their neighbors and their country at large? In single-minded profit mode, without guilt or second thought for patriotism, why do companies flee from the American worker and their families? Road rage, consumer rage, political rage, family rage, religious rage, gender rage, community rage, age rage; we have replaced our heart prints with the bloody finger prints of a societal disconnect of ethical empathy.

I have always seen the glass as half-full and I have believed in the hope of people saving our planet and one another. As I am aging, I am beginning to wonder more and more how some of my elected officials and my neighbors who elected them have lost their respect for the human condition.

I am beginning to understand my husband’s comment, and that scares me.

Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow, Lake View