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Friday, March 4, 2016

Voices for Illinois Children releases report on the impact of the Illinois Budget Crisis on the human services sector

Voices for Illinois Children provided a March 2016 update report on the impact of the state budget crisis on the human services sector. Below we have posted the Brief of trh March report, a link is below for the full report.

Budget Impasse Continues to Devastate Illinois Families and Communities  

Illinois is now in its ninth month without a budget for the current fiscal year, even as Illinois lawmakers consider next fiscal year’s budget. While court orders, federal pass through funding, and piecemeal legislation have restored some services, the impact of the failure to enact a budget has caused critical programs serving people in every corner the of state, including low-income children, seniors, and those with disabilities, to shut down. 

The failure of our elected officials to put people first by carrying out their most fundamental duty – enact a state budget – is dismantling the foundations of Illinois’ health and human service system, resulting in longterm damage to our state that will take years to repair. And, all this damage was entirely preventable. By failing to prevent the 25% income tax cuts from taking effect at the beginning of last year, lawmakers drained the state of about $5 billion in annual revenue. Since then, both the governor and the General Assembly have failed to restore the revenue required to enact a fully funded, year-long budget.

The harm is widespread — ranging from afterschool programs and autism services to lifesaving cancer and HIV screening and support services for seniors. While many providers of these critical services have been given contracts to continue to provide services at the level of the last fiscal year (which ended June 30), others have been issued new contracts with lower service levels. In either case, outside of consent decrees and federal passthrough funds, many critical state priorities still lack funding. As a result, even providers that are pillars of the public service delivery system such as Lutheran Social Services have been forced to lay off staff, turn away those in need, and shut program doors. 

Whether Illinois completely dismantles key service delivery systems is completely in the hands of Governor Rauner and the General Assembly. To prevent further damage to children, families, and communities, lawmakers and the governor need to take responsibility for funding our state’s priorities by restoring the revenue we need so that we can begin to repair the damage and put the people of Illinois first.

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