For the second time in less than a year, leaders of several service providers in West Central Illinois gathered on Monday to discuss the impacts of the lack of a state budget.
Illinois has been operating without a new budget since July 1st, 2015. Many have used the word “piecemeal” to describe the funding picture since, with several court orders and a major bill passed to fund certain things.
The lack of a budget, however, has meant layoffs and reduction in service for organizations like the Jacksonville Area Center for Independent Living, which hosted yesterday’s press conference. JACIL executive director Becky McGinnis provides one of several examples of cuts made.
“There are more deaf people per capita in Jacksonville than other places in the state, because of ISD. There are a lot of people who want to learn sign language to help them communicate. We have had to abandon our schedule of classes for a number of budget reasons and we don’t have the money to pay for an instructor.”
Jean Jumper, who heads up West Central Mass Transit, noted some of the more personal impacts of her organization’s decision to cut evening and Sunday services.
“I heard about a story today that a gentleman was in his car and had an automobile accident. He literally had to get in his power chair and go all the way from the middle of town to Rolling Acres on the Sunday after Christmas because there was no transportation. That breaks my heart personally. If we had of been running on call there would have been somebody to pick him up and get him home.”
State Senator Sam McCann and State Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer were also present yesterday. Both lamented the lack of a state budget but focused primarily on the inability of the legislative leaders- specifically, Governor Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan- to be able to come to an agreement.
McCann called the lack of a state budget “sinful”.
None of the service provider representatives, which also included Elm City Center and the Prairie Council on Aging, indicated they planned on shutting down completely.
You can hear the full press conference by clicking below.