Proposed Budget Cuts

For the second time in weeks, Governor Rauner threatened to make budget cuts after Democrats passed a spending plan that’s just over $36 billion.

“Our state revenues are forecast by two different agencies, the governor’s office and what we call cogfa, to be $32 billion in general revenue, so we have a structural imbalance that once again the majority party is trying to continue for another year,” said State Representative Grant Wehrli.

It’s cause for alarm to many senior citizens including those in DuPage County, who have a lot to lose, as the Governor tries to fill the hole in the budget.

“It makes me very sad because I’ll be out of a home, I won’t have anywhere to go,” said Resident of Heritage Woods, Ellen Kmitch.
Many others just like Ellen, are at risk of the $300 million slash in Senior Services, and are left to wonder, what will happen next?

“They’ve been asking if they’re going to be kicked out and where are they going to go, do they have to move, they’re really concerned, they keep asking me if they’re going to be able to stay here, this is their home,” said Joleen Simonson, Director of Marketing at Heritage Woods.

Another social service program that’s in the middle of Rauner’s chopping block is respite care, and Ray Graham, the local organization that empowers those with disabilities, says that it would be a detriment to their organization.

“It’s that little bit of support and services that keeps that families head above water because they have nothing else, so 350 families are at risk for losing respite services, Governor Rauner’s budget didn’t just cut that service it is proposed that it be completely and totally eliminated across the state,” said Kim Zoeller, President & CEO of Ray Graham Association.

And while some may think that specific groups are being targeted in the proposed budget adjustments, State Representative Grant Wehrli, says that’s not the case.

“There is going to be shared sacrifice for everyone whether its in education or special needs or senior services, but I don’t think they need to be painful cuts,

I think that we can manage our way through this in a way that makes our state more resilient and better,” said Wehrli.
Simonson and Zoeller say that though Governor Rauner is threatening to make cuts to save the state money, this would actually increase taxpayer dollars.

“The supportive living program actually saves taxpayers in the state of Illinois 52% compared to a senior living in a nursing home,” said Simonson.

“How can you justify paying more than $250,000 a year for one person, when you have a community based system that can serve that same person for less than half of that?” said Zoeller.

Both organizations are doing all they can to advocate for continued funding, knowing that if the budget passes, it’s going to make an impact that would negatively impact the lives of many.

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