Senator Mattie Hunter Talks Youth Unemployment in Decatur


State Senator Mattie Hunter is the newest lawmaker advocating for more state sponsored youth employment programs, especially for the summer. She says that because of the overall unemployment crisis many people who lost their jobs in the middle of their careers are applying for jobs that are usually reserved for younger people.

Illinois' Summer Youth Employment Program is a state sponsored effort to get "at risk youth" off the streets and into the workforce. The two year old program supplies small business with money to hire youth ages 16 to 24. Senator Hunter pushed for the legislation to pass, but says it still has faults.

"One of the most disappointing things about that summer program was that we had to turn away so many young people because there were not enough dollars to hire all the young people," said Hunter.

With Summer approaching, she took it upon herself to ask the governor to help get more support for these programs.

"I had a conversation with the Governor and I thanked him for putting dollars in the budget for last year and I just said governor I'm sorry, but it really isn't enough," said Hunter.

This year's state budget plan must pass by May 31st and there is a big chance that funding may decrease. So Senator Hunter is traveling to four areas of the state with the highest rate of unemployment.. like Decatur. She's bringing colleagues to each stop.. so that they can hear from teens who benefited from the program.

"The program helped us learn responsibility, to keep organized, and to understand what we wanted to do," said program participant, Miranda Murray.

Senator Hunter is calling on the youth to "talk to their local elected officials. Talk to the governor, talk to speaker, mike Madigan. And just tell them we want summer jobs."

So that more and more teens can enhance their lives. The program also provides youth with life-skills training. The goal is to get them prepared for a long term career. Senator Hunter's next stop is Rockford and then Chicago.

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