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Hunter: Department of Public Health must refocus priorities

State Senator Mattie Hunter SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) criticized the Illinois Department of Public Health on Wednesday for proposing cuts to programs and services that would disproportionately affect minority communities.

The Senate Appropriations I Committee heard testimony Wednesday morning from Nirav Shah, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, on possible budget cuts to reduce the $5 billion gap in Gov. Rauner’s budget.

The IDPH is holding an event celebrating “National Minority Health Month” in the Capitol’s rotunda this week.

“The department needs to refocus its priorities,” Hunter said. “To me, it’s highly hypocritical and counterproductive to celebrate bridging health equity, right after proposing cuts that will largely affect a group of individuals.”

During the committee, Hunter asked Shah a series of questions about the proposed cuts to HIV/AIDS treatment and prostate, cervical and breast cancer screenings.

“Minority communities are disproportionately experiencing higher rates of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer,” Hunter said. “Unfortunately, the budget impasse has only made matters worse. Proposing cuts that will affect the areas with the greatest needs will only cost the state more money.”

Shah’s testimony is part of an ongoing effort by Senate Democrats to ask Rauner administration agency heads to identify budget cuts after the governor derailed the grand bargain in March.

Sen. Mattie Hunter

Senator Mattie Hunter

3rd District
Majority Caucus Whip


Years served:
2003 - Present (Senate)

Committee assignments: Appropriations I; Executive; Human Services; Public Health; Committee of the Whole; Energy and Public Utilities (Chairperson).

Biography: State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago – 3rd District) has served in the Illinois Senate since 2003. She is Chairperson of the Senate Energy Committee and serves on many other committees like Human Services and Public Health. She is also appointed to serve on the National Conference of State Legislatures Health Committee and is Co-Chair of the Council of State Government Health Policy Task Force.