Sen. Willie PrestonSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Willie Preston (D-Chicago) issued the following statement in response to the governor’s annual budget and state of the state address:

“I agree that we need a holistic and humane approach when discussing this year’s budget to encourage structure in Illinois. The governor’s proposed budget offers several investments to help working families. However, I would like to see our existing vulnerable neighborhoods as a higher priority.

“I commend Governor Pritzker for his commitment to put Illinois on the path to financial recovery by outlining a budget that continues investments to expand education and economic opportunities, addresses health care disparities, and modernizes prevention programs in high-risk communities. We must be aggressive in our response to public safety concerns, funding programs that uplift our most vulnerable communities and address the root causes of violence.

“Public safety remains an issue and must be worthy of our attention as much as any other issue our state faces. I believe investing in trade programs provides purpose for youth who have been subjected to the ills of disinvestment and systemic neglect leading to instability and hopelessness.

“Becoming a carpenter changed my life’s trajectory. It gave me purpose, skill and a sense of pride in my work. I am calling for Illinois’ largest investment in trade schools in modern history, specifically targeting young people in Chicago.

“This spring, I would like to work with my colleagues, the governor’s office and other stakeholders to negotiate a budget that invests in high-quality, accessible vocational education to give our communities the tools they need to build a better future. The path to stability in Illinois is a budget that targets disinvestment and systemic neglect in our existing underserved and underresourced communities.”

The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus called a press conference Wednesday to offer their responses to Governor Pritzker’s annual budget address.