The Illinois legislative session came to an end May 31 without state officials passing a budget for a record-setting second year in a row.
No state in recent memory has ever gone this long without a budget, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Legislators and Gov. Bruce Rauner left Springfield this week promising to meet to come up with agreed budget plans by June 30.
Without a budget for Fiscal Year 2016, which ends June 30, nor the new year that starts July 1, it is hard to remain optimistic: Besides a year-long failure to act, partisan bickering and raised tempers escalated as the session wound to a close.
We are deeply concerned whether already-struggling homeless service programs across Illinois can remain open in a second year without state funding. We also advocate against deep funding cutbacks to homeless programs called for in a new stop-gap funding bill proposed by Gov. Rauner and the minority Republican caucus.
As an advocacy organization, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless does not receive government funding. When CCH advocates for public support, it is for the independent programs that shelter, house and assist the families, youth, and adults who cope with homelessness across Illinois.
CCH staff and leaders worked tirelessly this year to advocate for a budget, communicating to state leaders the dire circumstances faced by homeless people who rely on financially ailing homeless service providers. CCH staged nine actions in Springfield and Chicago through the year, and brought 608 homeless leaders to advocate in Springfield and at in-district meetings. We will continue to pressure legislators and the governor until they pass a responsible state budget with the revenues needed to support programs vital to Illinois.
Here’s a recap of the session’s closing days:
Last week the Illinois House introduced and passed a budget bill (Senate Bill 2048) that was quickly rejected by both the Illinois Senate and Gov. Rauner. Although the House bill included full funding for homeless services at FY15 levels, it did not include the revenue increases needed to pay for these and many other services. CCH did not support its passage without adequate revenue.
The governor and minority Republican legislators in turn introduced an emergency stop-gap funding bill. The governor’s plan has sufficient revenue but would slash millions in funding for homeless youth services and for supportive housing. CCH is deeply concerned that this proposal could become the baseline for discussions in coming weeks.
Gov. Rauner’s budget bill would cut most homeless services:
Homeless Youth Programs – Allocate $1 million – a cut of $4.6 million, or 82%, from the last enacted budget in FY15
Supportive Housing: Allocate $3.38 million – a cut of $27.1 million, or 92%, from FY 2015
Homeless prevention grants to households: Allocate $3 million – a cut of $1 million, or 25%, from FY 2015
Emergency and Transitional Housing: Allocate $9.38 million – level funding with FY 2015
There is not a realistic proposal on the table right now to adequately fund homeless services.
This increases the urgency for the governor to sign Senate Bill 2038, sponsored by State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago). CCH strongly supports passage of SB2038.
SB2038 passed the General Assembly in mid-May, with overwhelming bipartisan support. It would provide $700 million in emergency FY16 funding to human service providers, including homeless programs. In contrast to the governor’s budget bill, homeless service providers would receive at least 55% of FY15 funding.
There is no excuse for Gov. Rauner and legislators to refuse to pass a budget, including raising the revenue needed to fund life-saving and vital programs throughout the state. Homeless programs have laid off staff and reduced or closed programs through the year, turning clients away daily.
Illinoisans cannot wait any longer for the politics to play out.
To avoid a meltdown of the state’s human services system, we must:
– Persuade Gov. Rauner to sign SB2038 immediately, providing $700 million in emergency human services funding. Email the governor to ask him to sign the bill.
– The General Assembly and the governor must pass fully-funded budgets for FY16 and FY17 by Thursday, June 30.
Please help CCH fight for a just and responsible budget in Illinois.