As the budget impasse continues in Springfield, nonprofits and businesses providing vital services to women, children and people with disabilities are doing so without promised payments from the state.
State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) led two days of Senate hearings highlighting the consequences of these delayed and missing payments. He then helped pass legislation that would provide the authority to resume those payments to keep businesses open, allowing them to maintain employees and continue providing services ranging from breast cancer screenings for low income women to autism screenings and homeless youth services.
“We spent the last two days in the Human Services Committee hearing testimony about the human consequences of what is not currently authorized,” Biss said during Senate debate. “And those human consequences would curdle your blood.”
The legislation Biss helped approve would give Governor Rauner’s administration and Comptroller Leslie Munger the authority they say they lack to make payments to providers given the absence of a state budget. The legislation doesn’t immediately send the money out the door; it merely gives more authority to the Comptroller’s office to make the payments if they choose. Currently, state vendors are told they can’t be paid because lawmakers haven’t provided the payment authority.
“What (this bill) changes is the fact that there is an important slice of the most vulnerable citizens in Illinois who are being harmed viciously for no reason, while we fight about [the budget], and this bill has the opportunity to slow that down,” Biss said.
The proposal that cleared the Senate and now advances to the Illinois House covers $3.9 billion in total for critical services, including $822 million for the Community Care Program, $20 million for abuse investigations and $15 million for senior support programs.
The legislation – SB 2046 – was approved Wednesday in the Senate on a vote of 36 to 19.
Audio excerpts of Senator Biss’ debate speech are attached. The full audio of his speech can be found here: http://www.illinoissenatedemocrats.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5145:senate-passes-human-services-funding-audio&catid=101:blog-posts&Itemid=450