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Illinois Home-Care Workers Face Pay Cuts in State Budget Impasse

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016   

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Illinois' longtime budget impasse means hundreds of senior home-care workers could see their paychecks cut in half as soon as Friday.

The state owes about $1 million in payments to Family Home Service in Chicago. Since the impasse began in July, FHS office manager Marsha Holmes said, she's been partly relying on loans to pay employees, who make about $10 an hour. That line of credit has run out, however, and now her options are limited. Holmes is asking Gov. Bruce Rauner to end the budget battle with state lawmakers.

"We're looking twofold," she said. "We have employees that may be in threat of losing their jobs or not having a job at all. Then, we have a threat of seniors not having essential services for their everyday existence."

Holmes said her employees serve about 500 Chicago-area seniors who need in-home assistance. At least one home-care service in Peoria was forced to shut down last fall when the state failed to make its payments.

Some state lawmakers also are urging Rauner to lighten his stance on the budget impasse. In addition to Family Home Service, said Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, the budget problems are affecting hundreds of agencies and companies that rely on state funding. As a possible solution to the budget shortfall, he is urging his colleagues to explore new revenue options including a tax hike on Illinois' highest earners.

"The very wealthiest people in our state, the 'Bruce Rauner class,' and the biggest corporations in our state are paying next to nothing in taxes," Guzzardi said, "and working families are getting squeezed awfully hard already."

Rauner, however, is sticking by his decision to not consider any new revenue until state lawmakers agree to a property tax freeze and limits on union bargaining. This comes just days after state Comptroller Leslie Munger said Illinois will spend about $6 billion more than it takes in this coming fiscal year.


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