During an October state Senate hearing in Carbondale, one human services provider likened the pressure and uncertainty of the state’s budget impasse on her agency to bracing for a natural disaster.
Three months later, people in southern and central Illinois are coping with the aftermath of historic winter flooding, and service providers, such as public health departments, have stepped up to help even though their manpower and resources have been slashed because their state funding is in limbo.
I applaud these providers and the work they continue to do, but it comes at a price. They don’t work for free and the supplies they use aren’t free. For many of Illinois’ human service providers and health departments, the money they have on hand to pay for such efforts is quickly running out.
While I acknowledge that the governor took steps in declaring the metro-east and other locations throughout Illinois as disaster areas, this still does not change the fact that people in crisis from natural disasters and other life-changing events have not been on the list of priorities for funding. This must change.
Spring weather traditionally is not kind to Illinois. A severe weather event could spell tragedy in a state that is not funding vital human service and public health programs.
I urge Gov. Rauner to work with the General Assembly to get long-overdue payments to the state’s network of struggling human service providers right away. They can wait no longer.