Saturday, June 20, 2009

IL Budget Crisis

It is a tough time to live in Illinois these days. Just when you think our legislators can't get any more ridiculous, this happens. On May 31, 2009, the Illinois General Assembly passed a partial budget which created a $9.2 billion funding gap leading to huge cuts in fundamental state services. Severe cuts in the State human services budget will have serious adverse consequences for local governments, healthcare organizations, public safety agencies, the courts and corrections. Slashing funding for mental health services, addiction prevention and treatment programs, and youth services will result in less prevention, more crime, and higher detention and incarceration rates. A budget that cuts human services and other vital programs by 50% or more will also result in significant job losses, perhaps as high as several hundred thousand jobs across Illinois.

I cannot even begin to imagine how these cuts will affect my patients. Several in my caseload barely make ends meet each month, even with food stamps, Circuit Breaker, and assistance from DORS, along with many other community resources. There are also patients on my caseload that are on Medicaid to cover medical care and often long-term care facility placement. Without these and other services, our patients would be lost and their quality of life greatly affected during an already stressful time. I cannot believe that cutting social services is the only way to resolve our state budget.

NASW for IL is spearheading a campaign to protect these vital services. Rallies are being held all over the state. Phone calls, emails, and letters are being sent to our representatives. If you live in IL, please click here to send a message to your representatives (you don't have to be a social worker to use this resource.) NASW-IL will continue to post updates on the budget crisis.

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