By Mark Heyrman (via Mental Health Summit)
On February 16th, 2016, Governor Bruce Rauner presented his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2017 as required by the Illinois Constitution. This budget was presented despite the fact that, eight months into Fiscal Year 2016, Illinois does not yet have a budget for the current year. The Governor’s budget address made it clear that he was not changing his position about what was needed for a settlement. The responses from the leaders of the Illinois House (Speaker Michael Madigan) and Senate (Senate President John Cullerton) made it clear that they are also not changing their positions. So the impasse continues with no end in sight.
The details of the Governor’s proposed budget makes it clear that funding for mental health services will continue to suffer. Here are links to the proposed budgets for the Department of Human Services and the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Important programs for people with mental illnesses are also facing reductions in the budgets for theDepartment of Aging, the Department of Children and Family Services and the Department of Public Health.
In the meantime, the budget impasse is causing substantial cutbacks in mental health and other human services. For example, Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, one of the largest social service agencies in the state has been forced to layoff one third of its staff. These layoffs are the direct result of the failure of the state to pay the numerous human services providers across the state. Some providers have been able to borrow money to maintain services. However, that ability declines every day.
Because outside contractors are not being paid and because of other cutbacks, persons confined in state psychiatric hospitals are complaining of shortages of food, clothing and toiletries. They are also concerned because these facilities are saving money by turning down the heat. Illinois is becoming a third-world country in its treatment of people with disabilities.
it is past time to resolve this impasse. Tell the Governor and the legislative leaders that we need a budget NOW which contains adequate funding for persons with mental illnesses. Among other things, please communicate your support for the Responsible Budget Resolution.