Illinois cannot afford to fund social services without a budget

Illinois has yet to pass a budget for the current fiscal year, which began on July 1. As a result, reserves are running low and social service organizations are going unfunded, despite court orders. Comptroller Leslie Munger’s office says they simply do not have enough money to write checks to everyone effected by the shortages. As a result, more than 10,000 Illinois residents with developmental disabilities are not receiving their state-provided incomes, and mental health providers such as Thresholds are compelled to use lines of credit to continue providing services. Mercy Housing Lakefront, an affordable housing provider with supportive housing buildings in Uptown and the South Loop, laid off multiple employees in early July in anticipation of budget shortages.

Immigrant services, youth education programs and community outreach organizations are also impacted by this budget impasse.

Governor Rauner wants to add incentives to business owners, curb union memberships and limit the state’s budget deficit. He does not want to fund social services. Nor will he agree  to hold a special session to discuss the budget, citing the high costs to taxpayers. The cost of withholding court-mandated fees, and of taking away the supportive services many need for food, for housing, for creating sustainable lives is, on the other hand, reasonable. I do not understand how politicians, elected by the people and to represent the people, can so willfully ignore the basic needs of their constituents.

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