CBS Chicago: Some social services feeling the pain as state racks up unpaid bills

By Jim Williams, CBS Chicago co-anchor

Think the Illinois budget is bad? We just got a new snap shot today and the number is unimaginable.

The state will have $8.5 billion in unpaid bills by the end of the year. CBS 2’s Jim Williams introduces us to some of those already feeling the pain.

Sue Loellbach, executive director the Connections for the Homeless shelter in Evanston, says it used to be “very, very busy in the morning,” but not now.

Lockers for the homeless who sleep on the streets are now empty.

“This allowed them a place to keep their valuable papers, clean dry clothes, medications,” Loellbach says.

They can’t use the showers either.

“If they can’t use a shower, that makes them stay away from people, less likely to engage, to go to the doctor when they need to, to come in and see a case manager,” Loellbach says.

Loellbach says the shelter lost its state funding in July.

“It was a pathway relationships in the community that will lead to a better life,” she says.

You could call Connections part of the unlucky 10 percent, causalities of the state budget impasse.

90 percent of state programs are still funded because of court decrees, including retiree benefits, salaries for most state employees and money to retire bond debt.

Comptroller Leslie Munger says with no budget, it’s adding up $8.5 billion in red ink.

“This is clearly a recipe for disaster and the longer this continues the harder it will be for our state to regain its financial footing,” Munger says.

Sue Loellback says it a sad message for the homeless she serves.

Which raises the question, if the state is only paying 90 percent of its bills, why is there a backlog?

It is because the temporary income tax hike expired and current spending levels are based on having the higher tax, so yet again Illinois is spending money it doesn’t have.

Link to the WBBM TV report.