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"Moral" Budget Suggested for Illinois as Governor Prepares Address

March 17, 2009

Chicago, IL – Adopt a moral state budget: That's the message of a letter delivered to Illinois Governor Pat Quinn from some of the state's top religious leaders, as Quinn prepares to present his state spending plan this week. They say local human service programs need to be protected from cuts in the upcoming budget.

The head of the Northern Illinois Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Bishop Gary Wollersheim, says that as the economy has slumped, demand for emergency food assistance has seen a dramatic increase.

"People are suffering; they don't have any more places to turn and the places that do provide services to people - like Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, churches and other places – we're over our limit right now; we've got people lined up in some places. "

Wollersheim says that in order to thrive communities need access to preventive programs, such as those that address malnutrition, reduce domestic violence and provide access to job training. He adds that it's the state's duty to provide for its neediest citizens.

"In a time when people are struggling economically, they don't have enough food, they're losing their homes and the churches and social service agencies can't do any more, it's the moral and ethical obligation for the state to step up."

Wollersheim says that while no one wants to pay more income taxes, cutting programs for the poor is actually not fiscally responsible and will only worsen the problem. Governor Quinn has promised to cut spending in the budget that he will deliver Wednesday. Illinois is facing a projected nine billion dollar budget deficit.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL