As governor Bruce Rauner stepped into office, he also stepped into our state’s $1.6 billion budget shortfall.
In an effort to relieve that gap, he’s suspended $26 million in social service and public health grants for the state.
It’s cause for alarm for DuPage based Family Shelter Service, a domestic violence care center.
“About 44% of our budget comes from state and federal funds so we do rely on the government to help provide services of domestic violence,” said Judie Caribeaux, Executive Director of Family Shelter Service. “We think we’ll be impacted by about a 2.25% reduction in our current contract, and what that means is it’ll be about $15 thousand less in our current contract.
They’re not alone in their struggle. Part of the cuts include eliminating $1 million for autism groups, which means complete loss of state grant funding for Naperville autism group Little Friends.
But even those not directly affected by the cuts could still feel the shortcomings.
“Other agencies we work with do get funding, so if their funds are cut then there’s less money overall in the community to help people,” said Janet Derrick, Executive Director of Naperville Cares. “So that is our concern, again if this erosion of the safety net happens as they are discussing, we are very worried about our clients being able to get to work or pay their rent or their utilities.”
Though many groups in the area are worried about the loss, State Representative Grant Wehrli says it’s a necessary step in moving our state forward and getting the budget back on track.
“For the first time we are trying to balance the budget with the dollars that we know are coming in. Before we would just spend and then try to backfill from where the money was coming from, but that’s not how you run a business a government or a household,” said Wehrli, State Representative for District 41.
But in Caribeauxs’ eyes, money shouldn’t be an issue when it comes to helping those in need in our community.
“We continue to see very complex social service issues. The safety and the health of the community really relies on the safety of individuals, and if an individuals life is threatened I think we have a responsibility as a community, as a state, and as a government to take care of those who are most vulnerable,” said Caribeaux.
Services in our area are still waiting to hear final numbers, but urge others to contact their state representatives to voice concerns.
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