Thursday, February 24, 2011

Human services cuts to be only half as deep

By Jamey Dunn

Cuts in state funding that addiction treatment and prevention providers were bracing for will now be reduced by half, according to Gov. Pat Quinn’s budgeting office.

Kelly Kraft, a spokesperson for Quinn’s Office of Management and Budget, said the cuts to human services would total about $100 million instead of the $208 million that providers said the Illinois Department of Human Services told them would take place by March 15.

Substance abuse treatment providers predicted mass layoffs and the shutdown of residential treatment programs if the $208 million slash to the state budget became a reality.

Kraft said the cuts are not new but represent reductions made when the department was given a lump sum under the current fiscal year's budget. However, she said, heightened demands meant the department was not able to find cuts earlier in the year. “The realities have set in, and reductions have to be made,” she said.

Kraft said Quinn’s administration has gotten some backlash over the proposed cuts and wants to have an open dialogue with providers. “We’ve listened to a lot of people. We’ve received a lot of calls and e-mails.”

She said that the department would notify social services providers about the specific reductions in about two weeks. She said she it had not yet been determined which areas the cuts would focus on.

Check back tomorrow for more on what the members of the administration are weighing as they make decisions about human services cuts, as well as reactions from providers.

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