Quinn supports social service funding

The group held signs reading “Do the right thing” and “Put people first” and wore red shirts to signify the “bleeding” social services system if the proposed cuts go through.

Social services provide programs and resources for vulnerable members of society. State-funded programs aid people with special needs, including helping them live independently and find employment.

Gov. Pat Quinn spoke at the rally and stressed the importance of social services funding.

“I see a lot of signs saying ‘People first’, and that’s what it’s all about,” he said to the crowd.

“I’m not here to cut social services for the people that need it the most,” he added.

Despite the need for funding, Illinois is in a significant amount of debt. In order to maintain social service funding, the state needs revenue. A tax increase is inevitable, Quinn said.

“We have to do this to have a balanced budget and healthy state,” he added.

Not only would cutting down on social services leave people behind, it would also be detrimental to the economy to cut down on this network, Quinn said.

The proposed budget would cut 30 to 40 percent of the funding for social services, said Mark Klaus, president of Charleston Transitional Facility.

Some programs would be entirely cut out, he added.

“People will realize that people with disabilities, special needs and kids are being used as a pawn to rally the troops and get things going,” he said. “They are being used to make up for the deficit.”

These cuts would significantly impact the vulnerable members of society, Klaus said.

“People will lose their jobs and won’t be able to live independently in the community,” he added.

Brian Ritcher, developmental facility manager, has worked with people with special needs for 19 years.

“These people don’t really have any other options,” Ritcher said.

Not only do social services provide care facilities for those with special needs, they also aid people and provide them with the resources they need to thrive. With their resources taken away, they will no longer be able to function in society, he said.

“As soon as I started working with (my patients), they take off,” Ritcher said.

The cuts would specifically impact grant funding.

“They’re saying that grant funding is done as of June 30th,” he said.

“Grant programs are usually smaller and independent of larger agencies,” Ritcher added.

Apartment services and job placement are typically funded by grants.

“If you are able bodied and you’re breathing, we want you working in the state of Illinois,” Quinn said.

Quinn also stated that programs for veterans, which fall under social services, are essential.

“We have two wars going on,” he said. “I’m not going to cut programs that help veterans coming home … These programs are vital to the lives of people.”

Still, Quinn stressed that in order to maintain these programs tax increases are necessary.

“My mission is to repair the damage,” he added.