Responsible Budget Coalition rejects accepting Rauner’s budget cuts

After Gov. Bruce Rauner suspended $26 million from the funding of 22 human services departments in April, the Responsible Budget Coalition united to spread public awareness about the impact of Rauner’s decision and fight for revenue to invest human services.

According to a press release, the Responsible Budget Coalition is comprised of a group of 200 organizations who are involved with families, children, veterans, people with disabilities, education, labor union and religious and civic institutions.

Catherine Kelly, Rauner’s press secretary, said in an email that the purpose of the reduction is to fix the $1.6 billion budget hole created by former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. 

“Part of the solution to solving the inherited $1.6 billion budget hole without raising taxes or increasing borrowing is to continue to evaluate the current fiscal year’s budget,” Kelly said. 

Immigrant Integration Services is one of the 22 service departments being affected by the suspension, said Breandan Magee, senior director of programs at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrants and Refugee Rights. Immigrant Integration Services, which will lose $3.4 million due to the suspension, is responsible for funding 60 immigrant service agencies that provide naturalization services and citizenship opportunities.

“The immigrant services in Illinois are in great jeopardy,” Magee said. “We are not accepting the fact that immigrant services are considered nonessential by the governor and we will continue to let the governor and the legislator know that immigrants and refugees are essential in Illinois.

Teen REACH, a state-wide after school program for children ages six to 17, will also be affected by Rauner’s proposal, said Andrea Durbin, chief executive officer of the Illinois Collaboration on Youth. Durbin said the program helps students with their homework, engages them in physical activities, provides social support and offers a safe environment.

“It’s a really important way to help keep kids safe, give well income working parents (the chance to keep) their kids safe, and then really help to improve the academic achievements and the attendance at school,” Durbin said. 

Durbin said the children who relied on the program have nowhere else to go after school. 

After the funds were suspended, the program was shut down, Durbin said, and the students are no longer receiving the benefits of the after-school program, while the staff in charge of the program also lost their jobs. 

“I’m very concerned about the safety of family and children as well the community across the state of Illinois,” Durbin said. “And I’m very concerned with the social safety net that supports them.”

David Lloyd, the director of the fiscal policy center at Voices for Illinois Children, said these cuts will also restrict access to the Early Intervention Program, which serves infants and toddlers with developmental delays. 

Lloyd said Voices for Illinois Children works with children to help them grow. Without it, these children will have to resort to special education services in public schools, which are more costly. 

“So, in the short term the cuts might save money, but it will cost much more in the long run because the state didn’t help kids early on,” Lloyd said. 

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