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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Illinois State Budget 'Housing' Action Alert: Let Legislators Know You Support Revenue Increases to Avoid Devastating Budget Cuts

as shared by Housing Action Illinois

There are just six weeks until the scheduled end of the Illinois General Assembly session and it's imperative that we all be talking to our state elected officials about increasing revenue to make Governor Rauner's proposed budget cuts for next year, FY 2016, unnecessary.

Everyone in Illinois deserves opportunity and a chance to prosper. But Illinois is not upholding this principle—we've steadily cut dollars that flow into our communities and that help our neighbors and ourselves work, learn, and be healthy. Without revenue to support Illinois’s priorities, the Illinois we believe in will fade away.

Cuts to Programs that Create Affordable Housing and End Homelessness Are Already Happening and More Are Proposed
For example, since Governor Rauner released his budget proposal in February, responses to the budget crisis have chipped away at the State of Illinois' resources to end homelessness and create affordable housing in three different ways:
  • The agreement to address the current year, FY 2015, budget shortfall cut funding for most General Revenue Fund line items by 2.25%, which in practice is a 9% cut for the final quarter of the fiscal year. Programs subject to the cuts included Supportive Housing Services, Homeless Youth and Homeless Prevention. The total cut from these programs was approximately $735,500.
  • The FY 2015 budget fix also “swept” funds from many dedicated revenue funds to help cover the budget shortfall. While most of the transfers aren’t from funds that meet basic human needs, some of the funds do, such as the Illinois Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which was subject to a $6 million fund sweep.  The Affordable Housing Trust Fund is the state’s dedicated resource to create and preserve affordable housing.
  • One of the programs frozen by Governor Rauner on April 3, Good Friday, was the Assistance to the Homeless Program, which has an annual appropriation of $300,000.  The program is funded by a voluntary income tax check-off contribution.  The Illinois Department of Human Services uses these funds to make grants to homeless shelters and transitional housing programs to allow them to make health and safety improvements to their facilities.
If there is no new revenue for next year's budget, the Illinois General Assembly will have to resort to the types of budget cuts proposed by Governor Rauner, which included:
  • Supportive Housing Services:  A cut from $30.8 million to $16.7 million that would terminate programs currently serving 10,311 households that rely on case management, counseling, training and other services to maintain their housing.
  • Homeless Prevention Program: A cut from $4 million to $3 million that would mean 955 more households become or stay homeless next year, because they can't access grants averaging about $1,000 that are used to help families avoid eviction or secure a new apartment.
  • Homeless Youth Program: A cut from $5.6 million to $2.5 million that would end shelter and services for 1,316 youth, leading to increased victimization for these vulnerable young people and no support to become self-sufficient adults.
Overall, we estimate that more than 12,500 households will be impacted by these proposed cuts that total more than $18 million.

Revenue is Needed for a Responsible Budget
The revenue shortfall in the FY 2016 budget is entirely the result of the failure to maintain 2014 income tax rates. Those tax cuts—which disproportionately benefit people with higher incomes who don’t need the breaks—are costing the state $6 billion a year in revenue that previously supported shared priorities like along with education, health care, human services and public safety. There are a variety of ways to raise the revenue needed to close our budget gap and put Illinois back on the path of meeting its obligations, strengthening communities, and creating opportunity, including retroactively reversing the income tax cut, expanding the sales tax base to include high-end services and closing corporate tax loopholes.

Let Your Legislators Know You Support Revenue Increases
Click on this link to respond to our updated action alert to let your state legislators know you support revenue increases to close our budget gap and put Illinois back on the path of meeting its obligations, strengthening communities, and creating opportunity.

Housing Action Illinois
11 E. Adams #1601
Chicago, IL 60603

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