(Springfield, IL) — February 23, 2011. Illinois lawmakers today unveiled a bi-partisan Illinois House resolution calling on Governor Pat Quinn to halt the elimination of all state funding for Illinois’ non-Medicaid drug and alcohol treatment services effective March 15, claiming the mid-year budget cuts will trigger the discharge of 55,000 treatment clients and the lay off of more than 5,000 workers.
“There is no question that we must make sacrifices as we address our budget problem,” said State Rep. Jim Watson (R-Jacksonville). “However, it is important that these are shared sacrifices implemented in an equitable manner.”
“Completely eliminating addiction treatment is hardly equitable and if the lack of treatment opportunities resulting in higher rates of incarceration it could prove to be a more costly option,” stated Watson.
The lawmakers said that the contract reductions notifications coming from Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary Michelle Saddler will have a March 15 effective date, but that date is arbitrary, meaning providers have already begun to refuse new clients and are preparing client discharges and staff lay offs this week.
“The reason I am participating in this effort to halt this budget elimination is not because I think there should not be any budget reductions. There must be reductions, even in human services,” said State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago), Chair of the House Human Services Committee.
“However, it looks like the global budgeting principles that the governor spoke about in his recent budget address are not being applied to these mid-year cuts. It seems that they just got thrown out the window.”
“The legislature recognizes that all state services must face funding reductions to put our fiscal house in order,” said Feigenholtz. “Such budget cuts should be fair and balanced and thoughtfully considered, but Governor Quinn’s cuts to drug treatment fail to meet that criteria.”
In addition to the fiscal year 2011 mid-year budget cut, Quinn’s proposed fiscal year 2012 budget also eliminates $55 million or 80% of state funding from the Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse for prevention and treatment. That move will make the treatment reduction from 69,787 people this year to 13,957 next year, permanent.
As recently as fiscal year 2007, the state served 98,000 people. Quinn’s proposed budget also eliminates addiction prevention services for 229,536 youth.
“Our local law enforcement will bear the burden for those who need treatment but have nowhere to turn, landing in local jails or homeless or worse,” said Feigenholtz.
“We urge Governor Quinn to halt these cults and work with the General Assembly to develop a funding plan that will keep these services operating.”