No one seemed happy about cuts proposed for the next fiscal year at a budget hearing for the Illinois Department of Human Services. That includes the department’s acting secretary, Greg Bassi, who is requesting $423 million less than the agency received in the budget passed last year. That will result in programs being scaled back or discontinued, but Bassi says it’s necessary in what he calls a “crisis year” for the state budget. “In this fiscal climate, this is what the agency can afford,” Bassi testified before a Senate appropriations committee.
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Those cuts will include eliminating 450 jobs and canceling programs in many areas overseen by the department, including mental health and rehabilitation.
Ireta Gasner, senior manager of Illinois policy for the Ounce of Prevention Fund – which is run by the governor’s wife – says there are alternatives to cuts that Gov. Bruce Rauner has simply refused to consider.
“The budget proposal makes it clear to us that we cannot craft a FY16 budget on cuts. We have to look at revenue as a way to really protect cost-effective investments,” Gasner said.
When asked if some of the proposed cuts to programs would end up costing the state more in the long run, Bassi refused to speculate.