Illinois has been operating without a budget for two months. The impact has been immediate and felt across the state. No budget means no money for vital services for children and families. Woodstock Institute worked with the Responsible Budget Coalition (RBC) earlier this summer to urge lawmakers to pass a budget that focuses on generating revenue over simply cutting more services. Now is the time for lawmakers to take the lead and produce a budget that puts these services back in order.
Construction jobs, independent living services, and tuition assistance: these are some of the vital services that have been affected by the budget crisis. Other cuts include, but are not limited to:
- No state grants for psychiatrists, limiting access for uninsured patients
- No state funding for immigrant services
- No public transportation in some downstate communities and cuts to other major public transportation services like the Chicago Transit Authority
- No after-school programs
- Eliminating eligibility for childcare assistance to 90 percent of low-income working families who previously qualified for the program
RBC noted that the current budget crisis stems from the income tax rollback in January 2014, which reduced income tax from 5 percent to 3.75 percent. This rollback also reduced state revenue by about $6 billion, putting several services and programs in peril. To make up the gaps in the budget, Gov. Rauner proved that he is more willing to cut services instead of focusing on a balanced approach that includes raising revenue. The result is that low- and moderate-income families and individuals are carrying the burden of the budget crisis.
Woodstock Institute is not alone in wanting lawmakers to look to revenue to repair the budget. Illinois citizens are going to the streets so that their demands for a fair operating budget are heard. According to Progress Illinois, about two dozen protestors gathered together in downtown Chicago for a “Moral Monday” demonstration. The protestors demanded revenue solutions to the budget crisis, with one protestor describing Gov. Rauner’s budget cuts as “inhumane.”
As the struggle over the budget continues in Springfield, Woodstock Institute urges lawmakers to not cut crucial services that benefit thousands across the state.