The temporary increase in Illinois’s state income tax adopted in January 2011 is scheduled to expire at the end of 2014, at which time the tax rate will fall from 5 percent to 3.75 percent. This will cause a loss in revenue in fiscal year 2015 of $2.4 billion.
Many politicians and at least one major media outlet support letting the 5 percent rate expire. As usual, these proponents of cutting taxes and spending offer no specifics on what programs should be cut or eliminated.
Last week, at a joint hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committees, the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) provided a grim account of the impact cutting $2.4 billion from the state budget would have on human services programs.
IDHS began by enumerating the cuts that already have occurred. From fiscal year 2009 to fiscal year 2014, services to the developmentally disabled were cut by $31 million; to alcohol and substance abuse by $133 million; and to mental health by $411 million.
If the state budget is cut by $2.4 billion, IDHS-administered programs would be cut by $636 million, and IDHS’s staffing would be reduced by 2,500. IDHS explained the impact that cuts of this magnitude would have, assuming the cuts are made across-the-board:
Developmentally Disabled. Funding would be cut by $270 million, staffing would be reduced by 782, and 25,000 developmentally disabled adults would lose community-based services. The seven state-operated facilities would be at risk of being decertified, which would cost Illinois $180 million in Medicaid funding and expose the state to litigation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Rebalancing, Governor Quinn’s initiative to enable hundreds of people with disabilities to move out of large institutions and into their own home in the community, would be halted.
Family and Community Services. Funding would be cut by $188 million and staffing would be reduced by 860, with over 800 of those lost staff coming from the Family Community Resource Centers (local offices). This would result in payment delays that violate federal and state law. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) grants, already set at just 26 percent of the federal poverty level, would be reduced by 25 percent. Child care funding would be cut by $51 million; 39,000 children and 23,000 families would lose services. By failing to meet its state match requirement, Illinois would jeopardize $585 million in federal TANF block grant funds.
Early Intervention. Funding would be cut by $15 million and 6,000 fewer children with developmental delays would receive services.
Mental Health. Funding would be cut by $101 million, staffing would be reduced by 567, and 140,000 community-based clients would lose mental health services. More children would wind up in the juvenile justice system. More adults would go to hospital emergency rooms and become homeless.
Alcohol and Substance Abuse. Funding would be cut by $24 million, and 10,000 fewer persons with addictions would be served. More would wind up in jail, state hospitals, emergency rooms and homeless.
Home Services. Funding would be cut by $68 million, and 18,000 elderly clients would lose their services, threatening their ability to continue living at home.
When IDHS was finished with its testimony, the Senators had no questions.