Illinois House Proposes $700M For Human Service Programs

May 11, 2016
Signs on the door for the RACES agency in Urbana.

Signs identify the door to RACES, or Rape Advocacy, Counseling and Education Services in Urbana.

Jeff Bossert/Illinois Public Media

Court orders have kept money flowing to certain social services.  But many others have had to scale back or close after waiting more than ten months for the state to pay their bills. On Wednesday, Illinois Democrats proposed $700 million to partially finance various human service programs that have gone without state funding since last summer because there's no budget.

A House committee unanimously advanced the bill to the full chamber.

The measure would use $450 million from a fund dedicated to human services and $250 million from other special funds.

Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), the bill's sponsor, says it's intended to be a stop-gap measure until lawmakers and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner agree on a full budget.

"We're listening to people who are saying if there's a way to help us, please give us some help," he said.  Harris says it would get human service agencies about half of what they're owed - for this year.  Lawmakers are supposed to pass a budget for next year by the end of this month.

"If we're looking at FY17, we're looking at this problem starting all over again, if we don't find new revenue sources," Harris said.

The money would go to programs including homelessness prevention, rental assistance, addiction treatment, and veterans' rehabilitation.   While Republicans lent initial support, the governor's office signaled concern this plan is evidence Democrats are moving away from a comprehensive budget deal, and that it doesn't take care of other looming needs like prison funding.
The proposal would fund 46 percent of what human service programs expected to receive had the state budget taken effect July 1.

Story source: AP