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At-Risk Youth Services Cut; Senior Services to Shutter; Waiting List Leads to Overdose Death

At-Risk Youth Services Cut; Senior Services to Shutter; Waiting List Leads to Overdose Death

(Chicago) – While Illinois lawmakers mull a stopgap budget deal, the unraveling of Illinois’ social services safety net has continued to advance as another human services provider has announced that it was shuddering a youth services program.

STOPGAP BUDGET OR NOT, FINANCIAL DAMAGE DONE: Camille Phillips, KWMU-90.7… “A social service agency making cuts in the Metro East due to lack of state funding says even if Illinois legislators pass a stop-gap budget this week it won’t be enough to reverse the damage to its finances.

Children’s Home and Aid notified another nine Metro East employees last week that they were being laid off.

Their departure reduces the number of teens the agency’s programs for at-risk youth are able to serve, adding to the almost one million people the United Way estimates have lost access to social services in Illinois this year during the state budget stalemate.

“I’m not really sure what’s going to happen with these kids that normally would have been served,” said Mark Smith, the director of the agency’s Redeploy program in Madison and St. Clair Counties. “They obviously will have to go on either some kind of wait list or if the court views them as needing services and if they’re not able to get those services immediately, the only option may be prison for those kids.” … Read more here…

SENIOR SERVICES TO SHUTTER… Western Illinois Area Agency on Aging (WIAAA) Board of Directors and Executive Director Barbara Eskildsen announced Friday the need to temporarily close effective Sept. 2, due to the state of Illinois budget impasse.

“Our agency has only received general revenue funding from the state of Illinois for two programs for seniors, the Home Delivered Meal/Meals on Wheels program and the Regional Ombudsman Program,” Eskildsen said.

The agency and the small community based agencies it funds provide services for seniors and to adults with disabilities in Bureau, Henderson, Henry, Knox, LaSalle, McDonough, Mercer, Putnam, Rock Island and Warren counties.

“We have continued to provide services with federal funding throughout state fiscal year 2016. Western Illinois Area Agency on Aging cannot continue to essentially lend money to the state of Illinois by continuing to provide services with very little hope of being reimbursed for our expenditures. Any effort by our agency to do so is unsustainable,” she said. … Read more here…

BUDGET IMPASSE & BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CARE: WAITING LISTS, EMERGENCY ROOMS, JAILS, AND DEATH: Press Release… “A top Illinois mental health advocacy group has sent Governor Bruce Rauner a letter urging him to sign a human services stopgap budget bill sitting on his desk and pointed to a drug overdose death linked to the state’s 12-month budget impasse.

In the letter delivered to Rauner on Thursday (copy here), Community Behavioral Healthcare Association CEO Marvin Lindsey noted that waiting lists at community-based mental health and drug treatment providers now stand at 12 to 200 individuals per month and that an “overdose death” had occurred to someone on the list.

“Regarding the waiting list, many of these individuals usually end up in more expensive emergency rooms, hospital inpatient faculties, jails or, even, dead. Yes, dead,” Lindsey wrote. “In one instance for example, since the budget impasse began, a parent called a substance use provider to tell the agency that they could remove her son from the waiting list because he had died from an overdose.”

BUDGET IMPASSE: VOTERS WHO WANT SOMEONE TO BLAME SHOULD LOOK IN MIRROR: Dan Petrella, Herald & Review… “The interminable budget impasse at the Capitol has crippled public universities, cut off mental health and social services and even left Illinois unable to pay its water and power bills for prisons and other state facilities.

As the state nears the start of its second fiscal year without a full budget in place, voters looking to assign blame for the gridlock likely point the finger at Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrats who control the General Assembly, but they may need to look in the mirror.

That’s the message of a recent report from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University. Reviewing data from public opinion polls taken since 2008, the report, titled “The Climate of Opinion in Illinois 2008-2016: The Roots of Gridlock” … Read more here…

ENERGY MARKET MALFUNCTION?: Wyane Pratt, KWMU-90.7… “A battle over power is shaping up in Illinois. It involves lawmakers, but unlike with the state budget crisis they are not playing a central role. This fight involves electricity plants, regulated and unregulated energy companies and the nonprofits that act as air traffic controllers for the electric grid.

Texas-based Dynegy is taking at least three power stations off-line this year, which will reduce generating capacity in southern Illinois by 30 percent. The utility says it’s not cost effective to keep the plants operating.

The main reason behind the decision relates to electricity auctions held by the system operators.” … Read more here…

MURDER WITNESS SUPPORT: Chris Kaergard, Journal Star… “State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth also had a helpful measure pass the Legislature that we neglected to include in last week’s rundown.

The Peoria Democrat worked with local law enforcement and state officials on a measure, dubbed “DJ’s Bill,” that provides additional witness support for individuals that provide testimony in homicide cases.

Gordon-Booth and her husband, Manual Academy basketball coach Derrick Booth Sr., have unfortunate reason to be knowledgeable in such cases. Booth’s son, Derrick Jr., was murdered in 2014.” … Read more here…

“GOV. RAUNER, YOU’VE PROVED US WRONG”: Crain’s Editorial Board… “Back in 2014, when Crain’s endorsed Bruce Rauner in the primary and general elections, we saw him as a pragmatic businessman who would bring long-overdue solutions to a state government in serious need of reform.

We agreed that a shake-up was most definitely in order, and we agreed with many of the ideas Rauner championed, including workers’ compensation reforms, fairer taxes, a sensible solution to the state’s pension crisis, less red tape, increased spending on education and reinvigorating the state’s economic development agency.

At the time, we were skeptical that the governor could accomplish much with a Democratic-controlled Legislature. But Rauner assured us that he’d dedicate himself to persuading his opponents—and he promised he would wield his executive powers to work around House Speaker Michael Madigan if he had to.

Madigan, of course, bears the lion’s share of responsibility for the mess Illinois is in, thanks to his decades in power. But Madigan is not the governor. Rauner is. And there’s no way to deny it: By nearly every measure, the state is worse off since Rauner took office.” … Read more here…

PRESCRIPTION DRUG SAFETY: Herald News… “State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, D-Shorewood, and the AARP will be holding a Lunch and Learn event where attendees will learn how to speak with doctors and pharmacists to ensure they are using their prescription drugs as safely and effectively as possible.” … Read more here…

CAUGHT IN THE NET…

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(*Note to Political Insiders: The Illinois Observer also offers our exclusive, subscriber-only e-newsletter – The Insider – to, well, Illinois political insiders. Each Tuesday and Friday at 7:00 a.m. The Insider arrives in e-mail boxes with the choicest Illinois, Cook County, and Chicago political gossip, insider information, and news tips. For more information and a free, 4-week trial subscription to The Insider, please go here).

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