Legislators Consider Emergency Funding For Domestic Violence Programs

 
In this Oct. 1, 2015 file photo, advocates for victims of domestic abuse protest outside of state offices in downtown Chicago.

In this Oct. 1, 2015 file photo, advocates for victims of domestic abuse protest outside of state offices in downtown Chicago.

Sophia Tareen/AP

Illinois has entered its 22nd month without a real budget. Among the state services most affected by the political fight are those that help victims of domestic violence. The Illinois legislature is considering emergency funding for these programs.

Illinois doesn’t spend a lot of money fighting domestic violence — it’s way less than a tenth of a percent of the state budget. But since last summer, it’s spent nothing.

Vickie Smith represents 62 providers across Illinois. She says some groups have laid people off; others are about to.

Smith says you can’t just put these kinds of services on hold, anymore than you would a fire department or emergency room.

“When people have to call us to come into shelter, they’re running for their lives, literally running for their lives," Smith said. "They’re calling us because they have no place else to go."

Smith says one agency has laid off management personnel; another has laid off its entire staff.

Domestic violence was left out of last summer’s so-called stopgap budget. Legislation to approve state spending on the programs has bipartisan support, and is advancing in the Illinois Senate.

Story source: Illinois Public Radio