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Illinois Budget, Illinois Politics

Looming Illinois Human Service Budget Cuts Are Planned Reductions, Quinn Spokesperson Says

(Chicago, IL) – February 2, 2011. Hundreds of millions of dollars of looming cuts to Illinois human service provider budgets by Governor Pat Quinn are not “additional cuts” but rather planned reductions that the state is “continuing to work to implement”, according to a Quinn budget spokesperson.

Yesterday, the human services advocacy group Illinois Partners issued an e-mail alert to its 600 members warning that cuts could total “hundreds of millions of dollars.”

“The Governor’s office is reportedly considering hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to the to the current year FY’11 budget,” wrote Illinois Partners Director Judith Gethner.

“We are hearing that these cuts will be focused on the Department of Human Service which would continue the practice of disproportionate cutting to our sector and the individuals and families we serve.”

Additionally, a Quinn Administration source says the Illinois Department of Human Services will likely need to slice more than 10% of its budget, which is just shy of $4 billion.

However, the spokesperson for the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, Kelly Kraft, said it would be wrong characterize any further reductions as “additional cuts.”

“To indicate these are additional cuts to the FY11 budget would be inaccurate,” Kraft wrote in an e-mail. “There are not additional reductions in DHS for 2011. Reductions were announced last budget season, and DHS is continuing to work to implement those reductions.”

In other words, the cuts that Quinn Administration imposed on human service providers at the start of the new budget year in July 2010 were only partial cuts. Forthcoming cuts at mid-year—and safely after the November general election—are part of previously planned reductions, based on the approved FY 11 budget, and now are being phased in.

Gethner is, however, urging her members to call the governor and lawmakers’ office and to tell them, “During tough times we need to support Illinois families, not cut essential human services.”

Meanwhile, Gethner’s group is also pushing the Illinois General Assembly to pass a supplemental appropriations bill to raise the agency’s spending authority to avoid cuts.

“Instead of making knee-jerk cuts to core programs, we need our lawmakers to pass a supplemental appropriation that will enable us to get through the end of the fiscal year,” today wrote Gethner in an e-mail to her members.

With no additional money to appropriate, legislators would have to, essentially, give Quinn authority to cut from other state agencies or give him authority to continue contracting with providers without actually paying them, adding to the state’s snow drift-size pile of  unpaid bills at $6 billion.

Not good or realistic options.

About David Ormsby

David, a public relations consultant and blogger at The Huffington Post, is an ex-Press Secretary of the Illinois Democratic Party.


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