State Journal-Register: A year later, social-service agencies, hospitals recovering from impasse

From November 2015 until August 2017, Watson and hundreds of other clients of Springfield’s Senior Services of Central Illinois became victims of a state budget impasse between Illinois’ Republican governor and the Democratic-controlled General Assembly that would last two years.

It’s been almost a year since lawmakers resolved the impasse with an 32 percent income-tax increase, a budget passed over Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto and a $6 billion borrowing plan to help pay down what was then the state’s $16.7 billion backlog of bills.

In the 12 months since then, providers of human services and health care that endured historic payment delays said they have recovered to varying degrees and tried to restore services. But many said damage to local and statewide social-service “safety nets” has only begun to be repaired.

Even though Rauner and the General Assembly recently approved a fiscal 2019 budget on a bipartisan basis, human-service providers said still-unfilled gaps in payment and payment delays connected with the impasse only added to what they say is the state’s chronic underfunding of human services, a situation lasting a decade or more.

Providers said some rate increases approved in fiscal 2018 and 2019 weren’t enough to undo all the damage.

“There are definitely less services,” said Judith Gethner, executive director of Chicago-based  Illinois Partners for Human Service.

The impasse led to layoffs and positions not being filled, she said. The funding crisis also led to uncertainty about the future that continues to this day, with many not-for-profit organizations leery about spending money to replace positions and restore programs, and many having problems recruiting qualified professionals willing to work in such an environment, she said.

“We are finding ourselves stretched in a really horrific way,” Gethner said.  Click here to read more....