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Budget Stalemate Hurts Illinois' Children, Advocates Say

Services to families and children in Illinois took a hit from the extended budget deadlock. (Sierra Neely)
Services to families and children in Illinois took a hit from the extended budget deadlock. (Sierra Neely)
July 17, 2017

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Not so fast when it comes to celebrating Illinois' newly finalized, balanced budget.

Advocates for low-income children say there's a lot of ground to make up after two years without a spending plan.

Vendors and service agencies didn't get paid for months on end, and many had to lay off staff and turn away many in need.

Tasha Green Cruzat, president of Voices for Illinois Children, says the state's children are feeling the pinch of what happened during the two years state lawmakers deadlocked on a budget.

She says programs that were helping struggling families weren't funded.

"You have the parents who are the caregivers of these kids that need the services,” she states. “If they don't have jobs, if they don't have any kind of community development, it's hard to give a child a decent life."

Illinois' backlog of bills is at nearly $15 billion. Green Cruzat says the state comptroller will have to prioritize who gets paid first and that means it will be awhile before funding to all critical programs is restored.

The budget stalemate caused a domestic violence shelter in Aurora, Illinois' second largest city, to cut staff and turn away clients, and a homeless shelter for teens closed in Hardin County in February.

Green Cruzat says it's going to be hard for some to bounce back from that.

"Where are those kids right now, I'd like to know,” she questions. “Those kids that need that service to have a place to lay their heads and have shelter and food. Where are those kids today?"

Green Cruzat wants to make sure the problems Illinois is facing don't get ignored just because lawmakers agreed on a budget.

"Everyone's popping the champagne but wait, hold up,” she states. “There's families and kids that have been damaged by this, so let's not rest on our laurels right now. "



Reach Green-Cruzat at: 312-516-5565. Info at: www.voices4kids.org

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IL