Social Service Agencies Suffering Because of Budget Impasse

The Area Agency on Aging for Lincolnland's contract with the state typically brings in $1.5 million a year.

An appellate court Thursday ruled against social service providers, saying the state of Illinois does not have to pay them unless the state has a real budget.

It turns out, many social service agencies in Springfield opted not to be a part of this lawsuit.

"We didn’t figure being part of the lawsuit would help our situation or the state's situation," Sojourn Shelter and Services CEO Angela Bertoni.

Despite this, the Springfield domestic violence shelter is still hurting from the impasse.

They're now relying heavily on donations to provide the needed items for their clients because the $400,000 they're supposed to receive from the state isn't coming in.

If a budget isn't passed by the end of the fiscal year, which is just weeks away, there's a possibility the services the shelter provides will start being impacted.

"I mean we may have to make hard choices if a budget is not passed really soon,” Bertoni said. “It could be the choice of shutting down and people dying."

The Area Agency on Aging for Lincolnland is also hurting from the lack of budget.

Their contract with the state typically brings in $1.5 million a year.

Without this, it's been tough to provide the bare minimum of what's required of them under the federal Older Americans Act.

"Right now we're stretched as far as we can stretch and that's because we're doing what we're mandated to do,” said Donna Bileto, the executive director for the Area Agency on Aging for Lincolnland. “Those general revenue dollars are no longer there. We can't do all the fun stuff that we used to be able to do for our seniors and that makes a huge difference."

Bileto said the agency has also eliminated five positions since the impasse began.

"There's only so much that one person can do,” Bileto said. “We're all overworked. Many of us are not getting paid. Many of us are not getting increases. But we love this line of work and we'll continue."

Gov. Bruce Rauner has called lawmakers back to Springfield Wednesday for a continuous special session.

He said they'll work until a budget is passed.

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