“The revenue generated doesn’t come close to what this state needs to even keep the lights on”

Submitted on Thu, 01/14/2016 - 13:32

Capitol Fax

* From Emily Miller at Voices for Illinois Children…

Hi Rich.

I noticed that you posted about the Governor’s projection that his policy agenda would bring an increase in revenue of about $510 million to the state. Given that we are billions in the hole as the result of the loss of revenue from tax cuts and the ever growing backlog of bills, I wonder why his policy agenda gets so much air time when it’s clear that the revenue generated doesn’t come close to what this state needs to even keep the lights on.

That aside, what’s really clear right now, and perhaps what everyone needs to be reminded of, is who is not “winning” right now under anyone’s definition. Here is a small sampling of the ongoing impact of the budget impasse:

  • * The central office of The Autism Project, which is the largest network of autism service programs, closed on September 30th, leaving virtually no services for children on the autism spectrum who are non-verbal in Illinois.

    * 5,458 people, including children, who receive emergency and transitional housing have had their services reduced or eliminated. An additional 2,729 clients will have their services reduced or eliminated if the budget impasse continues through the first quarter of 2016. It’s winter, so while there’s never an ideal time to lose housing and become homeless, winter is probably the worst.

    * The Sudden Infant Death Program no longer provides free training for parents, health providers and law enforcement. They receive 4 or 5 requests for safe cribs weekly, but they haven’t had money for safe cribs since September. Meanwhile, the program director has reported that death reports of infants who died in unsafe sleeping environments continue to come in.

    * Redeploy Illinois, a DHS program that saves the state millions by diverting youth from incarceration in the Department of Juvenile Justice, is shut down in 23 counties. 6 additional counties are considering closing their operations. Last year, 316 youth were successfully diverted from the DJJ system, so elimination of the program entirely would lead to a roughly 45.6% increase in the DJJ population.

    * Even the bills to provide funding patches don’t actually relieve the problem. While domestic violence money got passed in SB2049 and payment for services to date were received, agencies are holding off on rehiring laid off staff because they are not certain about the sustainability of future funding.

We have to start acknowledging that every day that goes by without a budget makes getting to a fully-funded budget even harder. Bills continue to pile up and infrastructure continues to crumble. Voices for Illinois Children certainly hopes leaders can start talking solutions sooner than the Governor has suggested.