Thursday, May 16, 2013

House plans human services cuts

By Jamey Dunn

The Illinois House is planning to fund human services in its budget at a lower level than Gov. Pat Quinn proposed in his budget.

“We’re looking at cutting $770 million form the governor’s introduced budget, which are horrendous cuts,” Rep. Greg Harris said this morning before heading into a working group meeting, which is not open to the public, to negotiate the human services portion of the House budget with other members of the House human services budget committee. Quinn called for an increase of about $340 million for the Department of Human Services for next year when compared with the current budget.

Harris said that he hopes pass a bill that would spend more on human services this fiscal year as an effort to soften the blow of next fiscal year’s cuts. Income tax revenues for the current year will exceed previous estimates by $1.3 billion. However, some of that money has been used to pay down a chunk of the state’s overdue bills to schools, vendors, social services providers, local governments and others. “The economy has begun the rebound; not a lot but a little. So we have had money come in that was above our target for FY 13,” Harris said. He said spending some of that money on human services this fiscal year, which ends on June 30, “would certainly make our job less horrible and the cuts less painful on people. I hope that everyone will go along with doing that so that we can minimize the cuts, but we still have to continue to look for ways to live within our means and not overspend our budget every year.”

Harris said he did not know when the human services portion of the House budget would be complete. He said members of both parties serving on the committee, which he chairs, are trying to reach agreements. “We’re all trying to work together, and we want to work in a collegial way.” Whatever the House passes would also have to be approved by the Senate and signed by Quinn.


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