Last spring I wrote about proposals by Illinois politicians to cut health services to allow them to restore educational expenditures without increasing taxes or borrowing funds. I realized that such choices ultimately borrow against human lives as it impacts the long term quality of life for those who no longer receive adequate care. Wednesday a Chicago Tribune article reported that Illinois ranks worst in paying non-profits on time, and third worst in underfunding contractual services and government changes to contracts. At the same time that more are in need of such support services, the non-profits on whom those in need depend are cutting staff and services (54% vs. 38% nationally), heavily borrowing to avoid further cuts (42% vs. 22% nationally; 46% have borrowed over $1 million vs. 40% nationally), and cutting programs and services (31% vs. 21% nationally). They are also reducing or freezing salaries (65% vs. 50% nationally) and reducing benefits of staff (28% vs. 23% nationally). The full report by the Urban Institute is available online.
During this year’s election campaign much is being made by candidates regarding balancing the budget through one means or another. It is critical we not loose site of the many neighbors throughout the state who will pay the debt the remainder of their lives through decreased health, education, and welfare if we do not find ways in Illinois to restore timely, full payment for contracted obligations to our non-profits.