Tuesday, May 13, 2008
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Gov. Blagojevich urges congressional leaders to take immediate action on summer jobs program

Federal program would complement governor's Community Investment Works program to reduce violence, create jobs for teens

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[May 13, 2008]  CHICAGO -- Three days after announcing his Community Investment Works program to curb violence and create more opportunities for youth, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich sent a letter to congressional leaders on Friday urging them to approve legislation that would fund summer jobs for youth nationwide. In April, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., introduced companion bills in the U.S. Senate and House that would provide as much as $1 billion for communities across the country to implement a summer jobs program. The governor calls for federal action as Chicago nears the end of one of the most violent school years in recent history.

Glass"Our communities are in crisis. Our economy is struggling. We know that providing summer jobs to youth is a proven and worthwhile tool for reducing youth violence, stimulating the economy and rebuilding our communities," the governor wrote. "We in Illinois are working to invest in our youth and their future. I ask that you work to provide federal funding to support that investment."

Earlier last week, in response to ongoing violence on Chicago streets, Blagojevich announced a comprehensive plan to reduce violence and save young lives. Called Community Investment Works, it will address a range of factors contributing to youth violence, including the lack of employment opportunities, lack of safe social and recreational opportunities, and disengagement from their communities.

Schools

This school year, 24 Chicago Public Schools students have been killed gun violence, with still over a month to go before the school year concludes. From May 4 to 9, there were more than 10 reported shootings in Chicago, including one the night of May 5 in which 3-year-old Marshawn Williams was hit by a bullet while playing outside his family's apartment in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood.

The governor is proposing $150 million in targeted investment in areas that can have the most immediate effect on young people's choices and after-school options. The Community Investment Works plan will invest:

$30 million for the governor's Summer Youth Employment Program to provide up to 20,000 job opportunities for kids statewide. The majority of positions will be in 39 "high need" communities.

$20 million in grants to community providers for after-school and unattended youth programs that make sure kids have safe and productive options during non-school hours, including evenings.

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$100 million to rebuild deteriorating neighborhoods, support local businesses and stimulate job growth in at-risk communities, and equip law enforcement with advanced field technology to boost public safety.

Funding for the new plan would be provided in concert with the governor's proposed $25 billion Illinois Works capital plan.

"Investing in summer jobs would be a great opportunity for the federal government to provide kids a chance to bolster their confidence, increase their educational skills, build their resume and strengthen the economy. These jobs are the first these kids will ever have. It gives them the confidence to enter the work force and has a positive impact on their lives," said Jack Wuest, executive director of Alternative Schools Network.

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Text of the governor's letter follows:

Office of the Governor
Springfield, IL 62706

Rod Blagojevich
Governor

May 9, 2008

The Honorable Harry Reid
Majority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Minority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable John Boehner
Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Congressional Leaders:

We are nearing the end of one of the most violent school years for Illinois youth in recent history. In Chicago alone, 24 Chicago Public Schools students have been killed by gunfire this school year. As we enter the summer months, we will see more young people on the streets, unless we stand up and offer them alternatives.

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We need to engage our youth with jobs, activities and enrichment and give them a purpose beyond violence. Senator Patty Murray and Rep. James Clyburn have introduced bills that would invest up to $1 billion for summer jobs for youth. I encourage you to work to include funding for summer jobs in the Supplemental Appropriations bill, or in a second economic stimulus plan. I urge you to include funding for summer jobs programs in any of these vehicles. We still have time to put our youth to work this summer.

Investing in youth and our communities is essential. I recently announced the Community Investment Works proposal, a historic and immediate plan to stem the tide of youth violence in Chicago and around Illinois. Community Investment Works will provide up to 20,000 jobs for youth ages 13 to 22 around the state. The jobs will be community development and beautification jobs, such as working with the elderly, cleaning up a dirty lot, or planting a community garden. The youth will be able to earn a decent wage or stipend while they improve their own communities and learn valuable job skills.

Construction

I want to thank those members of the Illinois Delegation who have supported these bills and their efforts to ensure that there are opportunities for young Illinoisans. We must continue to fight for opportunity for our youth.

Our communities are in crisis. Our economy is struggling. We know that providing summer jobs to youth is a proven and worthwhile tool for reducing youth violence, stimulating the economy and rebuilding our communities.

We in Illinois are working to invest in our youth and their future. I ask that you work to provide federal funding to support that investment.

Sincerely,

Rod Blagojevich
Governor, State of Illinois

Photographers

CC:

The Honorable Richard J. Durbin
The Honorable Barack Obama
The Honorable Bobby L. Rush
The Honorable Jesse Jackson, Jr.
The Honorable Daniel Lipinski
The Honorable Luis V. Gutierrez
The Honorable Rahm Emanuel
The Honorable Peter Roskam
The Honorable Danny K. Davis
The Honorable Melissa Bean
The Honorable Jan Schakowsky
The Honorable Mark Kirk
The Honorable Jerry Weller
The Honorable Jerry F. Costello
The Honorable Judy Biggert
The Honorable Bill Foster
The Honorable Timothy V. Johnson
The Honorable Don Manzullo
The Honorable Philip G. Hare
The Honorable Ray LaHood
The Honorable John M. Shimkus

[Text from file received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]

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