AFL-CIO and human services rally together in support of Illinois families

 AFL CIO Budget Rally

(Rockford, Ill. - 10/07/2015) – Under a unified voice, members of Illinois AFL-CIO, United Way of Rock River Valley and the nonprofit community assembled yesterday at E.J. "Zeke" Giorgi Center to call on leaders of the General Assembly and the Governor to promptly pass a state budget. Now in its fourth month, the budget impasse in Springfield is causing uncertainty and distress across the human services sector and concerns about the long-term impact of future state budget cuts on children and families.

"Nonprofits depend on a timely and fiscally-responsible state budget to provide programs that ensure basic quality of life to our disadvantaged neighbors and that advance the collective economic strength of the region," says Linda Sandquist, vice president of United Way of Rock River Valley. "Lack of a budget resolution means that the state's promise to our local human service providers has been broken."

During a United Way of Illinois survey of more than 400 human service agencies in July, 39 percent of agencies had already tapped into cash reserves to maintain operations and 19 percent reported that they would have depleted their cash reserves by the end of August. In fact, the survey found that four out of ten agencies had less than three months of cash on hand. Locally, many nonprofit agencies are experiencing severe reductions, or even elimination of state funding and are, out of financial necessity, cutting back or sharply reducing their services.

For instance:

  • To date, the Literacy Council has used $42,400 from its reserves. By December 30, 2015, the agency's deficit will be between $60,000 and $100,000 and reserves will be depleted, causing the agency to reduce programming by more than half.

  • Remedies, the area's domestic abuse shelter, is currently owed $400,000 from the state. During the month of September, the agency turned away more than 100 women and children who requested services.

  • A total of 41 hours of service have been cut from the Boys and Girls Club of Rockford resulting in a 63 percent decline in average attendance.

The budget impasse also creates a negative impact on the health of the local economy. The longer the budget impasse continues, the more it threatens the hundreds of thousands of Illinois workers employed by human services agencies. A local unnamed agency, citing employee privacy, recently cut ten percent of its administrators pay and will lay off up to seven staff by November 1.

Today's event served as an update to the community on the economic and social impact of the Illinois State budget impasse. Mike Brown, CEO & President of YMCA of Rock River Valley, Gary Halbach, CEO of Remedies, and Chip Stoner, President/CEO of Boys and Girls Club of Rockford shared their concerns on how the budget impasse is affecting their delivery of quality services. Michael T. Carrigan, President of Illinois AFL-CIO and Brad Long, President of Northwestern Illinois Building & Construction Trades Council, spoke on the impact the budget stalemate is having on the State's economy and working class.

Last month, United Way hosted a similar forum featuring local legislators and nonprofit leaders at the Nordloff Center in Rockford.

"Sustaining human services in the State of Illinois will require a collaborative effort among government, and civic and private sectors. United Way, as the largest private funder of human services in the state, will continue to advocate for a responsible budget that recognizes the value and importance of human services," says Sandquist.



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United Way of Rock River Valley

United Way of Rock River Valley creates lasting change for everyone in Winnebago and Ogle counties by reducing childhood poverty and building hope for families in neighborhoods. We unite people and organizations to focus on results-driven solutions that create a community of healthy, well-educated and financially-stable individuals and families. LIVE UNITED® is a call to action for everyone to make the change happen.