Local Advocates Argue Damaging Cuts to Services for Children, Public Safety, and Economic Development Can Be Avoided with Adequate Revenue
New Lenox, IL –(ENEWSPF)—April 30, 2015. Today, advocates in the collar counties – armed with a new analysis from the Responsible Budget Coalition (RBC) – are fighting back against Governor Bruce Rauner’s proposed FY 2016 cuts. The RBC analysis breaks down cuts geographically and shows families in the collar counties will suffer due to steep reductions in services for autism, childcare, community care, home services, public safety, and economic development.
Despite warnings from bond houses that a failure to extend 2014 income tax rates would cause serious harm to Illinois’ families, politicians failed to act. Failure to extend the tax rates resulted in a $5-6 billion revenue gap for the upcoming budget year, and as a result, Governor Rauner has been pressing lawmakers to pass a budget with $6 billion in cuts to vital programs. The cuts are the result of expiring tax rates, which are primarily going to corporations and upper-income individuals.
The Rauner Administration did not wait until the new fiscal year to enact painful cuts. In addition to proposed cuts in the upcoming budget year, without warning, on April 3rd (Good Friday), Governor Rauner slashed funding in the current fiscal year. The Governor cut $26 million for human services including funding for autism and after-school programs, citing a lack of revenue, while approving $100 in corporate tax giveaways a week later.
Dr. Carl Indovina, Director of Autism Programs at Trinity Services in New Lenox is an advocate for a responsible state budget. Prior to the cuts, Dr. Indovina and his small team offered diagnostic services to an additional 48 families a year. But since the Rauner Administration terminated over $40,000 marked for the facilities’ autism program on Good Friday he says he has been forced to turn away 21 families that have requested diagnostic services. Trinity currently provides ongoing therapy and other services to 33 families, mostly from Western Will County.
The Governor’s FY 2016 budget eliminates the entire Illinois Autism Project grant, resulting in a $175,000 loss to Trinity. Dr. Indovina says the cuts eliminate funding for 20 children and could even result in Trinity’s autism program closing down.
“The thought of permanently eliminating The Autism Project is such a hard pill to swallow because professionals know how important early intervention is for children with autism,” said Dr. Indovina.
“It would be incredibly naïve for lawmakers to believe that cuts today won’t have a profound negative effect on children and their families for years to come. The solution to our budget problem is not to cut more vital programs, but rather provide adequate revenue. ”
Adam Schweitzer of http://ducap.org/ DuPage County Area Project (DuCAP) is another local responsible budget advocate. Prior to the cuts, Adam worked with a staff of ten to provide after-school programs to 30 DuPage County youth. The services ranged from safe-space and homework help, to community engagement, to arts, music, and sports. On Good Friday, Rauner Administration froze all of DuCAP’s after-school program funding, causing Adam’s co-workers to be laid off. Many of the dedicated now-former staff are working on a volunteer basis, but are finding themselves needing to find new sources of personal income. Adam, whose salary is paid through federal funds, remains on the job.
The Governor’s FY 2016 budget eliminates the entire community services budget line item, a $5.6 million funding stream that previously funded after-school programs for youth in 21 areas throughout the state.
Schweitzer describes how he recently had to tell youth at Wheaton Marian Park Apartments that DuCap would continue its after-school programs through the end of school year, but could not promised the programs would continue next year. “I won’t forget the look on those kids’ faces. They were crushed and so was I,” says Schweitzer. “If DuCAP is forced to close its doors, these needed programs for youth may never come back.”
“The value of these programs is beyond measure, and they must be restored. It’s critical that our lawmakers work together to provide adequate revenue.”
Will County Board Member Jackie Traynere is also advocating responsible budgeting. She says Rauner’s budget – which slashes Will County and the City of Joliet’s share of state funds by nearly $12.5 million – would put the brakes on plans to modernize aging sheriff’s facilities and the county courthouse. These long-term investments in community infrastructure would bring jobs and ensure sheriff’s deputies, employees of the judicial system, and members of the general public are safe.
“Rauner’s budget cuts put public safety at risk and cost us middle class jobs,” says Traynere, who also runs a local small business. “This is the precisely the wrong time to throw a wrench in Will County’s economy, right as good jobs are finally back after a tough national recession. The state can avoid these damaging cuts by restoring revenue.”
With the deadline for lawmakers and the Governor to pass a budget just 33 days away, local advocates say they will continue to fight for adequate revenue to avoid Rauner’s unnecessary and painful cuts.
The Responsible Budget Coalition (RBC) is a large and diverse coalition of approximately 200 organizations concerned about state budget and tax issues. It includes organizations that serve children, families, veterans, seniors and people with disabilities; education groups concerned about early learning, K-12 and higher education; labor unions; faith-based and civic organizations; and many others.
The individual organizations that belong to the RBC represent a diverse range of interests but are united by these three common principles:
- Adequate revenue to support state priorities and make smart investments
- No more cuts to vital programs and services
- Fairness in raising revenue and making any cuts caused by failure to raise adequate revenue
Source: Responsible Budget Coalition