The Stopgap Bill Helps But Does Not Solve Budget Issues

With the end of FY2016 tomorrow, Illinois has gone over a year without a budget. With no adequate plan for spending, the lack of funding has severely impacted the capacity of many vital social, health, and educational organizations to provide services to millions of Illinois residents. As a result, the impasse has disproportionately impacted poor and vulnerable populations that depend on these social services.

A handful of stopgap bills have been passed over the last year and a half to ensure minimal funding pay for state workers, public schools, and current transportation and infrastructure projects. However, the impasse has caused many other services to shut down programs, cut into reserve funds, and lay off workers. A United Way State Budget Survey found that, out of 429 Illinois human service agencies, 91 percent have had to severely decrease the number of clients they serve leaving many without vital aid. Many public universities and community colleges have had to incur large cuts in staff and programs. Chicago State University, which currently has 4,500 students enrolled, can no longer afford to pay its employees.

Governor Bruce Rauner and the General Assembly are currently working on an agreement to pass another stopgap bill to allow funding to elementary and secondary schools to stay open the coming year. The proposed agreement also reportedly includes more than $600 million towards human services, and $1 billion to public colleges and universities. If this agreement passes, it will be of great help to struggling organizations and their clients.

However, the new stopgap measure is still just a temporary solution that will leave social and educational needs unmet over the long-term while putting off imminent financial problems. Illinois needs to stop kicking the can down the road and fix the budget now.

For more detailed information on which organizations and how many Illinois residents have been affected, please follow The Illinois Update, visit the Illinois Economic Policy Institute website, and like the Illinois Economic Policy Institute on Facebook. For a satirical yet painfully honest representation, check out The Daily Show’s piece on Illinois’ current budget situation.

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