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Despite Windfall, Illinois Still To Lag On Bills

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Providers have learned to live with the dull ache of waiting on long-overdue money, but some agencies say they’re on much firmer footing than in years past.

The Elgin-based Community Crisis Center, which helps victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, was so behind in state payments in 2010 that it informed the Department of Human Services it was within days of closing its doors. At that point, it was relying on local fundraisers to operate on a day to day basis. The agency eliminated staff positions and cut its budget.

This year, payments from the state have been steadier – a change that director of clinical services Maureen Manning-Rosenfeld credits to help from local lawmakers, who intervened with telephone calls to state officials.

Still, crisis center officials say they see more definitive relief coming only with a solution to the state’s even bigger financial headache – the nearly $100 billion shortfall in state employee pension funding, which drains millions from the state budget every month.

“I understand we’re not going to get a (normal) budget until we settle pensions,” Manning-Rosenfeld said.

Democratic lawmakers disagree with Topinka’s assertion that they are overly optimistic about revenues for the 2014 budget, and therefore where the backlog will end up a year from now.

“We took care of so many of these bills (this year) that it decreased the amount in 2014,” state Sen. Dan Kotowski, a Park Ridge Democrat who helped negotiate the new budget.

But beyond that, lawmakers negotiating the next budget, to be implemented July 1, 2014, must account for the roll-back of the state’s three-year temporary income tax increase, unless they vote to make it permanent. The tax increase, in place since 2011, brings in $6 billion a year.

“Will they make that increase permanent or not?” Gethner asked. “Those are the uncertainties we’re keeping our eyes on.”

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Posted by FanSite on Jul 1st, 2013 and filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response by filling following comment form or trackback to this entry from your site

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