Back in August we partnered with Forefront to write about how the Illinois budget crisis has had an impact on the most vulnerable citizens across the state. Since then, not much has changed.
Unfortunately, here we are seven months later, and the State of Illinois is still without a budget.
Who has been hurt the most as a result?
People that rely on the social safety net.
For many of us this is not news. Last month Lutheran Social Services, the largest statewide social service provider in Illinois announced that it had to make drastic cuts as a result of lack of a state budget. The agency had to cut over 43% of its staff, eliminating over 30 programs.
Since July 1, 2016, the beginning of the State’s 2016 fiscal year, many social service organizations that have contracts with the state have not received payment. As a result, a recent survey conducted by the United Way found that nonprofits are suffering. Thirty three percent of nonprofits surveyed reported they will struggle to operate at existing levels if the budget impasse continues through the month of March. Of those surveyed, 85% have reported that they have had to cut the number of clients that they serve.
So what does this mean for seniors across the state?
As more and more agencies that receive state funding fight to make ends meet, the more likely it is that those agencies will need to make cuts.
Lutheran Social Services' senior programs were hit especially hard when the agency was forced to make cuts. The agency had been accruing several hundred thousand dollars a month in unpaid bills for home care services. As a result, home care programs suffered. These programs help seniors across the state stay in their homes and live independently.
Many Meals on Wheels programs, a service many seniors utilize to receive healthy meals in their own homes, rely on State funding and are also subject to cuts.
Now, as our representatives in Springfield plan for the 2017 Fiscal Year we hope that they put their politics aside for the greater good of citizens across the state, especially those that need the social safety net the most.
Check out this infographic for a detailed break down of the budget impass details.
What can you do?
If we place value on a social safety net for seniors and children, quality roads and transportation, clean air, and an education system that builds the strength of our economy, we have to speak up and urge our lawmakers and the Governor to act now.
Forefront, a statewide membership association for nonprofits, philanthropy, public agencies, advisors, and our allies, has been actively involved in passing a budget that protects all Illinoisans and want to share what you can do as well:
> Email your lawmakers and the Governor, visit your state Representatives and Senators at their district office, or call them at 1-844-311-CUTS (2887). Tell them to pass a FULLY-funded year-long budget now by choosing revenue. Please also share if you are an individual that is currently not receiving assistance because of the budget impasse.