Gov. Bruce Rauner has suspended $26 million in social services and public health grants as part of his push to whittle away at a $1.6 billion shortfall in the current state budget.
The Republican’s office released a list of targeted programs late Friday that included funding to pay for the funerals and burials of public-assistance recipients, smoking cessation, teen programs, autism and HIV and AIDS programs, among other things.
Rauner also froze $3.4 million in funding for immigrant integration assistance as part of ongoing efforts to keep the state rolling through the June 30 end of the budget year.
He also interrupted $180 million in parkland grants in March.
Rauner’s office said the check-writing halt was needed because the expenditures were based on the assumption that a temporary income tax would be extended past January, but it wasn’t, after Rauner won the election.
“Part of the solution to solving the inherited $1.6 billion budget hole without raising taxes or increasing borrowing is to continue to evaluate the current fiscal year’s budget,” Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said. “The governor’s office worked with agencies to see which grants could be suspended and prioritized essential services.”
The cuts will save the state $21.8 million in Department of Human Services Grants and $4.5 million in unexpended funding through the Department of Public Health and the suspensions affect only this yearís funding, Kelly said.
But there’s always another price — this one paid for by constituents who, as soon as Monday morning, will be told — by closed doors — there’s no more money to help them.
Breandan Magee, senior director of programs for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, said dozens of organizations assisted 102,000 legal immigrants in 2014 with applications for citizenship, English as a Second Language classes and health and nutrition programs for low-income immigrants.
“There are 299 jobs across 60 different immigrant-services agencies at risk” with funding ceasing, Magee said Saturday. “There are workshops scheduled for citizenship, applications for citizenship pending, ESL classes hallway through.”
Immigrant integration programs — which Rauner proposed eliminating entirely in the 2016 budget — will forfeit nearly half of their $6.7 million budget, according to figures provided by the governor’s office. Magee said he hopes the state will cover expenses he’s already incurred.
A copy of Friday’s letter from Human Services notifies the recipient to “immediately cease incurring additional obligations, costs or spending any further grant funds.” Agencies must submit records of all spending for the year.
Jimi Orange of Children’s Home and Aid faces the unenviable task of telling up to 25 of the 100 children in Chicago’s impoverished West Englewood neighborhood they can’t come to Earle Elementary School for after-class tutoring and cultural activities because the state has recalled the remaining $3.1 million of Teen REACH money for kids ages 7 to 17.
“The staff’s concern is how to tell the families? What to tell the kids? How to tell the kids?” Orange said. “These are kids who already have abandonment issues, trust issues.”
A LOOK AT THE CUTS
The following are the grants suspended by Gov. Bruce Rauner to trim the state’s budget deficit:
Department of Human Services
Funeral & Burial, $6.9 million
Immigrant Integration Services, $3.4 million
Welcoming Centers, $191,300
ARC Lifespan, $118,100
Best Buddies, $250,000
Autism, $1 million
Group Home Loans, $20,000
Compulsive Gambling, $406,000
Westside Health, $94,200
Addiction Prevention, $1.6 million
Assistance for Homeless, $300,000
Community Services, $2 million
Teen REACH, $3.1 million
Coalition F/Tech Assist-Child, $250,000
For Childrenís Health Program, $231,600
Outreach to Individuals to Engage in Services, $380,700
Regions Special Consumer Support, $277,700
SMRF Training, $420,100
DD Latino Outreach, $87,500
Microboard Development and Outreach, $47,500
DHS TOTAL: $21.8 million
Department of Natural Resources
Brothers and Sisters United Against HIV/AIDS, $789,800
Increasing Access to Health Care-Wellness on Wheels, $180,000
Wellness on Wheels – Mobile Administration 2015, $135,000
Illinois Tobacco Quitline, $3.1 million
Project Safe Sleep Education and Outreach, $250,000
MidAmerica Regional Public Health Leadership Institute, $75,000
IDPH TOTAL: $4.5 million
Department of Natural Resources (suspended in March)
Park and Recreational Facility Construction, $89.5 million
Open Space Lands Acqusition and Development, $56.3 million
Museum Capital Grants, $30.4 million
Bike Paths, Mud-to-Parks, others, $2.6 million
IDNR TOTAL: $178.8 million
Sources: Office of the Governor, Illinois Department of Natural Resources