Protesting Proposed Budget Cuts

Springfield, IL – Social service advocates are staging a series of protests around Illinois to oppose extensive budget cuts.

The protesters say the state needs higher taxes to avoid cutting state funding for programs such as child care and services for the disabled.

Social service providers also say foster children could be returned to the state, addicts won't get treatment, senior citizens could go uncared for, and domestic violence victims will have nowhere to turn.

So far, lawmakers have rejected a tax hike. They approved a budget that provides only about half of the funding the governor is seeking for various social service programs.

Eugene Collins with SEIU Healthcare Illinois helped organize a rally in Springfield. He says lawmakers should not be taking their summer break until they pass a full budget for next year.

"To be on vacation, to be wherever they are instead of being here trying to to address this matter is basically total disregard to the constituents of the state of Illinois," says Collins.

Dave Munroe is a specialist at the Springfield Center for Independent Living, which provides services for the disabled.

Munroe says if the cuts go forward, thousands of people who work as personal assistants for the disabled will lose their jobs. He says many of those disabled people will then be forced to move into nursing homes.

"So you're going to have a bunch of people in institutions that are going to cost the state a lot more money in the long run," says Munroe. "And you're going to have thousands upon thousands of personal assistants out of work. So they're not going to be paying income taxes as a result of this."

At least 30 separate protests are scheduled this week outside lawmakers' offices across the state. Organizers are targeting lawmakers who voted against proposals to raise income taxes to help balance the budget.

Meanwhile, the Quinn administration on June 16 further outlined the massive cuts it says will have to be made if lawmakers don't come up with more revenue and fix the state budget they passed with a $9.2 billion hole in it.

Thanks to Illinois Public Radio