ROCKFORD - Monday night's political forum at Rockford College asked candidates how they can help human services in the Rockford area. Human services often fall victim of state budget cuts.
The candidates in the state senate race for the 34th district, democrat Steve Stadelman and republican Frank Gambino say they both relied on tax-payer funded human services in one way or another. Gambino mentions his daughter just had a child out of wedlock and says she will be turning to those human services to help her and her newborn baby. Stadelman said he attended college on government grants and loans, in addition to his family being on assistance growing up on his family's dairy farm.
But then the candidates were asked if they would commit to not cutting human services if they took office. While both candidates responded by saying they didn't want to cut services, both seemed to hint at the fact that cuts are inevitable.
"There really are no easy answers at all," said Stadelman. "Some very tough decisions, but I think the thing we need to keep in mind is that we've had these discussions that these aren't numbers on a worksheet, these are human lives."
Gambino, in his response, also took a jab at the democrats in Springfield.
"What we need to do is convince the party that controls all the votes that we need to cut our budget," said Gambino.
"We need to work toward pension reform and solve that pension issue, make those adjustments with a system that is eating up our resources."
On the topic of pension reform, the candidates were also asked whether or not they support debt restructuring on the billions owed to human service providers, all because the state can't pay its bills. Stadelman says he supports that and Gambino says it's worth a look at.
"It would seem to make sense to restructure that debt, take advantage of the lower interest rates that are available," Stadelman said.
"You know debt restructuring is a short term solution to the problem that we have. We need long term solutions," said Gambino.