|…And, boy, did we…"|
Rauner’s Compassion? “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet…”
You may not have noticed this, but sunsets in winter are often much more colorful than in the summer. With the humidity gone and less cloud cover, the pinks and purple hues are more pronounced. Of course, this is because the western sky foretells an even colder weather the next day…and the next, and so on. Welcome to the Midwest.
It’s 20 below wind-chill tonight, and the homeless begin arriving at shelters in the colorful dusk waiting for any opportunity for food and a warm mattress for the night. Many are chronic sufferers of a world that has left them or their meds behind. Others arrive newly down on their luck, without a job but sometimes with children. Expressions range from fear, confusion, anger, to plaintive.
Thank your lucky stars…
But if the stars have aligned against you, or if your medical condition or workplace incident left you penniless, or if your own precarious stability in rough economic seas has left you like a broken but now tormented dream, DO NOT COUNT ON THE NEW GOVERNOR TO CARE AT ALL.
Some startling specifics from Housing Action Illinois (http://housingactionil.org/).
Governor Rauner’s Budget Devastating for Efforts to End Homelessness: Let Your Legislators Know You Support a Responsible Budget with Adequate Revenue
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner released his fiscal year 2016 budget proposal yesterday. As we expected, Governor Rauner’s plan to solve Illinois’ longstanding budget problems includes devastating cuts to vital human service programs that meet the needs of people with the lowest incomes. Governor Rauner has increasingly called for “shared sacrifice” as of late, but his budget only calls for sacrifices from the most vulnerable among us.
Regarding the programs that most directly impact efforts to end homelessness and create affordable housing, we don’t have exact numbers in every area, as full budget details were not released. However, this is what we understand Governor Rauner proposes to spend next year compared to the current year budget and our estimate of the reduction in households experiencing or at-risk of homelessness that will not be served:
• Supportive Housing Services: A cut from $30.8 million to $16.7 million that would end services to 3,525 households.
• Homeless Prevention Program: A cut from $4 million to $3 million that would mean 955 more households become or stay homeless next year.
• Homeless Youth Program: A cut from $5.6 million to $2.5 million that would end shelter and services for 1,316 youth.
• Emergency and Transitional Housing: Flat funding at $9.4 million with 100% of funds paying for the program continuing to be diverted from the Illinois Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which is intended to build actual housing units, not cover the costs of social services. At this year’s funding level, we estimate that more than 42,000 people will be served, but that funded programs will turn away people more than 55,000 times due to lack of bed capacity.
Overall, the proposed funding cuts for all these programs is 36% and we estimate that nearly 6,000 households will not be served.
Cuts to other types of human service programs were often similarly severe, including cuts to community care programs, mental health programs, substance abuse programs and many others.
Our state’s budget problems have been made much worse because the 5% income tax was lowered on January 1. The benefits of the tax decrease are primarily going to people with the highest incomes.
According to data released by the Center on Tax and Budget Accountability (CTBA), more than half (54.4%) of the dollar value of the tax relief from the reduction in the state’s personal income tax will to the wealthiest 11.8% of tax filers in Illinois. Millionaires do particularly well, as they will receive an average annual tax break of $36,797 per year. The bottom 50% of income earners in Illinois will fare particularly poorly, receiving just 8.1% of the total tax break generated by the phase-down of the state’s personal income tax rate. So much of the tax relief goes to upper income families in Illinois, that it will actually worsen income inequality in the state.
We have until the end of May to appeal to our state legislators and Governor Rauner to create a state budget with adequate revenue needed to put Illinois on a path to sustainable prosperity for everyone.
Please contact your state legislators and let them know you are not happy with the proposed budget and that you expect them to do their best of pass a responsible budget, including revenue increases.