In Springfield, Governor Pat Quinn has asked legislators to vote Wednesday on his proposed income tax increase, and in Evanston, directors of many social service agencies are planning a rally in front of local legislators’ offices to thank them for supporting the tax increase.
It is still unclear whether legislators who favor Gov. Quinn’s proposed 50 percent increase in the state income tax – from 3 percent to 4.5 percent – are outnumbered by those who do not wish to raise taxes and prefer the seemingly draconian cuts in funding for education, social services and other programs.
The landscape of social services – always fretted with more valleys than peaks – is likely to become a victim of a scorched earth policy, if Gov. Quinn cannot persuade enough legislators to abandon their so-called Doomsday Budget and agree to a set of tax increases.
Agencies in Evanston and throughout the state are bracing themselves, anticipating that they will have to stretch their staff and resources even further or diminish staff or services in order to survive another year.
A spokesperson for State Representative Julie Hamos told the RoundTable on June 12, “As of right now, the leaders [in Springfield] are looking for a solution. Gov. Quinn is preparing to send pink slips to all the government workers who will probably be let go. Social services agencies are being told to prepare for a 50 percent budget cut.”
The RoundTable obtained a copy of a letter addressed to social service agencies throughout the state, dated June 12, from Ivonne Sambolin-Jones, director of the Community Health division of the Illinois Department of Human Services.
The letter, with an inside address of simply “Dear Provider,” states, “The General Assembly recently approved a ’50-percent budget’ for fiscal year 2010 that cuts a long list of vital services and programs. This budget falls far short of meeting the statutory obligations and needs of the State, and fails to fulfill our basic commitments to the people of Illinois. The legislature’s ’50 percent budget’ cuts $2.240 Billion from the Department of Human Services, severely impacting our ability to serve Illinois residents.”
The drastic cuts in funding will spread from Springfield like wildfire, say some Evanston providers, burning a huge hole in the safety nets of childcare, youth services and substance abuse counseling and prevention, among others.
Karen Singer is executive director of the Evanston/North Shore YWCA, which operates the only shelter in the area for battered women and their children. She told the RoundTable on June 15 that she had “been notified that the [state] Department of Human Services grant was being cut by 75 percent.”
Federal funds passed through the state, she said, may not be subject to the same 50 percent cuts as the other social-service agencies. “If so, that could affect our being able to provide services to victims of domestic violence. … In a typical year we provide services to about 200 women and children, and we turn way about 1,200. … Were we to have to close, I don’t know where women would go.
“This is potentially a devastating situation for women and kids in a violent situation.” If funding to other similar agencies is likewise cut, “there will be fewer places to refer people. These are women in danger for their lives. … It’s a life-and-death situation for some,” Ms. Singer added.
Don Baker, director of Youth Organizations Umbrella (Y.O.U.), told the RoundTable he spent June 11 in Springfield with about 50 others representing social-service agencies. He said because of the loss of funding for youth services Y.O.U. had to let two employees go. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” he said.
Martha Arntson, executive director of Childcare Network of Evanston told the RoundTable that, at the June 11 meeting of the City’s Mental Health Board, several local agencies described what the drastic decrease in state funding could mean to them.
In addition, Ms. Arntson said, there is concern that legislators would slash childcare funds. “At a Quality Alliance [advocates for early childhood education] meeting on June 11, it was said that the state is considering a 72.5 percent cut in childcare funding.” She also said the legislators may reduce the pool of those eligible to receive state childcare subsidies by changing the eligibility requirements.
At present, families earning up to 185 percent of the federal poverty-level income are eligible. That amount may be decreased to 50 percent of the poverty-level, effectively eliminating childcare subsidies for the working poor, she said.
Letter to Social Services Providers from the State Department of Human ServicesPortions of the letter from the Illinois Department of Human Services, describing the types of cuts in social-services spending, follow:
“”Due to the General Assembly’s failure to approve the revenue plan proposed by
Governor Quinn, the State of Illinois, Department of Human Services, Division of Community Health and Prevention will no longer be able to afford the following programs:
Grant Programs (funding terminates June 30, 2009):
Community Youth Services
Unified Delinquency Intervention Services
Communities For Youth
Release Upon Request
Teen REACH (Grants will be issued to GEARUP Providers)
Additionally, for the following Services, State General Revenue Funding (GRF) will
be reduced by up to 75%.
Substance Abuse Prevention
Healthy Families Illinois
All Our Kids Early Childhood Networks
Childhood Asthma Prevention
Teen Pregnancy Prevention
Coordinated School Health Education
Comprehensive Community Based Youth Services
Parents Too Soon
Parents Care and Share Responsible Parenting
Domestic Violence Prevention
School Health Centers
Services to Victims of Sexual Assault
Teen Parent Services
The following programs are not funded from GRF funds and are not impacted by the
Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws
Illinois Steps Ahead/GEARUP
Rate based programs including Early Intervention, Family Case Management, and Targeted Intensive Prenatal Case Management are still under review. In the event that rate and grant reductions are necessary, a separate notice will be issued.
Since unveiling his budget proposal in March, Governor Quinn has understood and expressed the consequences of an inadequate budget. While the Governor continues to work with the General Assembly to enact a responsible and balanced budget, we must take steps to operate within the statutory limits of the budget that was approved by the legislature. To contact your legislator, go to www.ilga.gov and click on “”legislator lookup.””
This letter is to notify you of these cuts in order for you to work with customers served in these programs, your staff and prepare, as best as possible, for an uncertain future.
Ivonne Sambolin-Jones, Director
Division of Community Health