Erie House Responds to Deal to Address Illinois Budget Impasse
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 30, 2016 | Chicago, IL
Illinois lawmakers reached a deal on a temporary spending bill to fund education and human services today.
Lawmakers in the Illinois General Assembly passed a series of stopgap measures today to temporarily secure funding for education and human services. The compromise comes 364 days since the state of Illinois had a budget in place, a now historic impasse that has been devastating to vulnerable individuals and families across the state and the social services network designed to support them.
Senior leadership at Erie Neighborhood House responded to the breaking news, applauding the progress achieved while still calling for continued collaboration in Springfield.
“We at Erie House are grateful for the steps Springfield took in the right direction today, but we also know there is still much work to be done in order to secure prosperity for the state of Illinois,” says executive director Kirstin Chernawsky. “The stalemate in Springfield over the past year has been crippling for human services and the people we serve, and we are all too aware that these temporary stopgap measures will still fall short of addressing the needs of vulnerable communities across our state.”
She notes that Erie House suffered losses equaling approximately 10% of its annual budget since July 1 of last year due to the impasse, and lack of funding severely weakened the state’s human services infrastructure. The program areas hit hardest at Erie House included child care, school-age and youth programs, citizenship and immigration services, and adult education. Ten staff positions were either reduced or eliminated altogether, and the agency was forced to cut back on some of the services it provides to Chicago’s immigrant community.
The impasse has affected residents who rely on the human services support network the most severely, and Chernawsky fears families and communities will continue to suffer if lawmakers cannot pass a more long-lasting, comprehensive spending plan.
“It is still necessary for Gov. Rauner and the General Assembly to put politics aside and achieve a fair, fully-funded budget for the entirety of FY17 that invests in programs designed to support our most vulnerable residents—children, working families, immigrants, seniors, the homeless, people with disabilities and those living with mental illness—to in turn build stronger, more vibrant communities across the state,” Chernawsky adds, pointing out that temporary spending measures make it difficult for nonprofit organizations to plan and coordinate services. “We need to operate with the confidence that our lawmakers are committed to the people we serve.”
A rally took place at downtown Chicago's James R. Thompson Center this afternoon, and the various human service organizations represented expressed similar urgency for a fully-funded budget to address the entirety of the fiscal year.
“Today marks progress, but we plan to continue telling our lawmakers that the communities we serve are essential,” says Chernawsky. “We want a balanced budget that acknowledges the value of each individual and invests in a better future for all.”