- Published: Wednesday, October 21, 2015 11:03 AM
Benton –Senator Forby toured several rehabilitation and healthcare facilities to discuss the consequences Southern Illinois faces if Governor Rauner doesn’t work with legislators to pass a budget. Senator Forby listened to suggestions from the community affected by the budget so he can bring their recommendations to Springfield.
“Governor Rauner is holding the budget process hostage in exchange for proposals in his wage-killing turnaround agenda,” Senator Forby said.
Senator Forby toured Golden Circle Senior Center (GCSC) in Harrisburg where he also hosted a senior health and resources fair. The GCSC provides on-site and in-home meals for seniors throughout the week and also hosts daily activities. The budget impasse has forced them to scale back their services and if something isn’t done in the coming months, they could have to limit services offered to the senior community.
“It’s really unfortunate that seniors living on fixed incomes could face losing the Meals on Wheels program and other services they depend on. I hope the legislature and the governor can work together to get something done for our seniors. Our seniors have worked all their lives and paid taxes. Funding senior programs is respecting the contributions our parents and grandparents made,” said Darlene Goolsby Saline County Coordinator at GCSC.
Senator Forby also toured MAP Training Center in Karnak, which provides services to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities from Massac, Alexander, Johnson, and Pulaski Counties. MAP Training Center is a day training facility that provides individualized life skill and employment services and support to improve overall independence.
Senator Forby spoke with MAP’s Executive Director, Bob Putney, who said the impasse is affecting MAP Training Center and similar agencies in the area.
“The budget impasse halts any future planning and financial commitments to our vendors,” Putney said. “While we appreciate the effort on the part of the legislature and various state agencies, along with the Illinois courts, in ensuring we still are currently receiving funding, the longer the budget impasse goes, the more likely it is that agencies like MAP will face severe cuts when a budget is finally approved. MAP also partners with other agencies, like Shawnee Community College and SMTD Transportation, which means the budget impasse is having an effect on ancillary services MAP provides to the people it serves.
If the budget impasse is not resolved soon, it is highly likely that agencies like MAP Training Center will face severe payment delays, which could compromise our ability to provide the full array of services we normally offer and could quite possibly lead to cuts in our staffing levels. All of this combines to affect both the vulnerable population we serve and only adds to the high unemployment rate in Southern Illinois.”
The next stop on the tour was Family Counseling Center, Inc. (FCC) in Vienna, which provides behavioral health, development services and supportive living for over 1,000 residents in the seven southernmost counties in Illinois.
In rural communities, residents who require mental health and disability services often have long commutes to treatment facilities. Reductions in funding disproportionally affect vulnerable populations in Southern Illinois in part because typically each facility is the only facility that can help that population for hundreds of miles.
“If the budget crisis isn’t eventually solved, we will be put in a position to reduce services and lay additional people off. Thirty-seven employees have either been laid off or hours have been reduced thus far. Cutting services and staff doesn’t do the community or the clients any good. The funding cuts diminish the progress we’ve made with our clients to this point, and that’s hard to overcome,” said Sherrie Crabb the Executive Director at FCC.
Senator Forby said the tour was an eye-opening experience and plans to tour more facilities to let other legislators and the governor know how important passing a budget is to Southern Illinoisans.
“This tour was an opportunity for me to see corners of my district I haven’t had a chance to visit. More importantly, it was an opportunity for me to meet with residents and organization leaders who are facing financial uncertainty because of the budget impasse. Southern Illinois is disproportionately feeling the effects of the budget standstill.
The bottom line is we need to get something done. Not having a budget is affecting pockets of our population who have no options. The governor’s method of forcing our most vulnerable to suffer because of his refusal to scale back his wage-killing proposals is truly repulsive and reflects his origins as a billionaire who doesn’t care about working-class people.”