Funding for Human Services in Illinois Hangs in the Balance

Funding for programs needed by the most vulnerable people in Illinois, including the developmentally disabled, the mentally ill, the substance addicted, and children in deep poverty and their families, would be slashed if the temporary 5% income tax rate adopted in January 2011 falls to 3.75% on January 1, 2015, as scheduled.

On March 26, Illinois Governor Quinn released his proposed budget, which assumes that the 5% tax rate will become permanent, as he advocates. At the same time, he released a “not recommended” budget showing the funding cuts that will be necessary if the tax rate falls to 3.75%.

While Speaker Madigan and President Cullerton have indicated their support for making the 5% tax rate permanent, there are only five weeks left before the General Assembly adjourns on May 31, and yet no action has been taken.

The Shriver Center’s earlier report on the drastic cuts facing human services if the temporary tax increase is not made permanent was based on committee testimony from the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS). On April 9, IDHS testified before the House Appropriations–Human Services Committee and gave a much fuller picture of what would happen if the “not recommended budget” is adopted. This report is based on that testimony.

Overall Impact

IDHS would be required to cut its FY15 spending by $398 million, or 12.5%. Under Governor Quinn’s proposed budget, human services funding would increase by $500 million. Hence, there is nearly a $1 billion difference in proposed human services funding depending on whether the income tax rate falls to 3.75% or remains at 5%.

Another major issue is staffing. Under the “not recommended” budget, local office staff would be reduced by more than 1,000, which would decimate IDHS’s ability to provide services and lead to long delays in providing benefits.

Alcohol and Substance Abuse

Funding for alcohol and substance abuse services has been cut by $133 million since 2009. Under the Governor’s “not recommended” budget, funding would be cut by another $29 million (24%) from $120 million to $91 million. This would mean that 16,000 fewer people would receive addiction services. Many of these untreated individuals could wind up being housed in state or community hospitals, crisis centers, homeless shelters, jails, or on the streets. Moreover, 6,000 fewer jail diversions would be available, and release dates for incarcerated individuals would be delayed due to reduced access to after-release treatment services. Providers of addiction services, who last received a rate increase nine years ago, would have their rates cut.

Developmentally Disabled

Funding for services to developmentally disabled individuals has been cut by $31 million since 2009. Under the Governor’s “not recommended” budget, funding would be cut by another $189 million (18%) from $1.047 billion to $858 million. Staffing would be reduced by 782, and 25,000 developmentally disabled adults would lose community-based services. The seven state-operated facilities would risk 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 homes in the community would be halted.

Mental Health

Funding for mental health services has been cut by $411 million since 2009. Under the Governor’s “not recommended” budget, funding would be cut by another $54 million (11%) from $506 million to $452 million. This would mean 140,000 individuals would have reduced access to basic services, including therapy and medication, 35,000 people would no longer receive any services, and 10,000 people would not receive needed crisis services.

Rehabilitation Services

Funding would be cut by $61 million (10%) from $640 million to $579 million. This reduction would mean that 16,400 current customers would no longer be served.

Child Care

Cuts would result in 41,000 children and 23,000 families losing child care that allows parents to work or go to school.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

Monthly income support grants to needy children and their families would be cut by 25%.

Early Intervention

Cuts would eliminate services for 7,300 developmentally delayed young children.

Supportive Housing and Homeless Services

Cuts would eliminate services for 13,600 people, including 500 homeless youth, which would significantly increase the homeless population.

In addition to these human impacts, these reductions in services would have multiple fiscal impacts on the state. Federal funding would go unclaimed or be forfeited, the state would be held in contempt of various court orders, and state facilities would be decertified.

Action Needed

To avert these disastrous massive cuts to human services, contact your state senator and state representative today and urge them to support the Governor’s budget including an extension of the 5% income tax rate.  

Copies of any correspondence also should be sent to the chairs of the appropriations committees with oversight of human services, Sen. Heather Steans, and Rep. Greg Harris.

 

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