Tuesday, December 22, 2009

State Stiffing Area Social Service Agencies

In a replay of August's Social Services funding crisis Illinois agencies are again warning they may have to cut back if the state doesn't come up with some money soon.

State Comptroller Dan Hynes in his most recent statement in October said Illinois had nearly $3 billion in unpaid bills despite borrowing $2.25 billion due by the end of June. He said then the state was about about three months behind in bill paying.

Some agencies complain they haven't seen any money since August.  One Kane County agency is preparing to lay off its entire staff at the end of the year if Springfield doesn't pay what it owes them.

Two of McHenry County's 20 social service agencies are already running on loans from the McHenry County Mental Health Board, Deputy Director Bob Lesser told FEN Monday.  And that's the good news.

"Fortunately we have a resource most don't," said Lesser.  That's the Board's own tax receipts.  But Lesser said the Board can usually only lend client agencies money for a couple of months.

"Part of the issue is the state expects providers to get a line of credit from the banks," Lesser said. He warned that doesn't work now if it ever did.  Aside from the extra cost of interest, Lesser said, bankers are beginning to wonder if the state will ever pay what it owes.

"Many have exhausted their resources," said Lesser.  "It's very thin."

Hynes, Democratic candidate for Governor against Pat Quinn, said after legislators went home, "This is a reckoning brought on by years and years of irresponsible budget practices and nothing has changed." 

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