GALENA, Ill. -- From social service providers to city governments, the budget impasse in Illinois continues to delay upcoming projects, affect long-term planning and force significant cuts to employment and programming.
Illinois has proceeded without a budget since July. Nearly seven months into the fiscal year, the Illinois General Assembly still is mired in a stalemate, and social service agencies are losing faith that the budget questions will be resolved soon.
The state's largest provider of social services, Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, announced Friday the closure of more than 30 programs and the elimination of more than 750 positions, or 43 percent of its employees, according to a press release. The nonprofit is owed more than $6 million by the state for delivered services, the release states.
The loss of the programs means 4,700 people will not receive services from the organization. Intouch Home Care Services, which included in-home support services for seniors in Jo Daviess County, was among the programs cut.
Pam Austin, senior director of communications for Lutheran Social Services, said the situation had "reached a tipping point."
"We've used up the line of credit from the bank and the available resources from our foundation to cover our expenses and meet our payroll," Austin said. "In order to keep our organization afloat, we had to put a stop to the services we are not getting paid for. It is a matter of cash."
The outlook for many Illinois organizations brightened in December, when the General Assembly voted to release dollars in support of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, as well as other funds.
Northwestern Illinois Community Action Agency, based in Freeport, manages LIHEAP in Jo Daviess County.
Despite the vote in December to free up funds for the home-heating program, Executive Director Marcia Derrer said many housing programs run through her agency still lack state support.
"Other than that, we are still operating," Derrer said. "We're functioning, but we are certainly not expanding."
Riverview Center in Galena has dealt with similar issues related to the budget impasse in recent months. Executive Director Carrie Melton said things have improved since December, when the state released funding for domestic violence services provided by the organization.
Even so, the temporary loss of funding has had a lingering effect on efforts to recruit new workers and bring back those who were laid off due to the budget impasse, she said.
"Unfortunately, we have lost some good employees as a direct result of the Illinois budget situation," Melton said. "We had to lay off some people who went on to find other work."
Meanwhile, funding in support of Riverview's services for sexual assault victims has not been freed. Melton said the organization is relying on donor support from private foundations and community members to keep these services afloat.
While this is not the first time uncertainty has surrounded state funding, Melton said, she emphasized that the duration sets this situation apart from others.
"We've gone into fiscal years in the past without a budget passed but been able to come to an agreement within a couple months," she said. "This is a different type of gridlock, a different climate."
Local governments also have felt the impact of the state budget situation, although the effects have waned in recent months.
Galena City Administrator Mark Moran said dollars tied to state use tax, motor fuels tax and video gambling revenue were released to the city in December.
Moran said, however, grant money is frozen for a new canoe and kayak launch, located south of the downtown. This means the project might have to be delayed, he added.
"This (budget uncertainty) also creates a problem moving forward, when we try to budget for our future," Moran said. "This creates a whole lot of uncertainty."