A rash of grant pullbacks – many affecting providers of services to the sick and needy – is being called the “Good Friday Massacre,” seeing as how April 3 was when the news of the decisions hit. Lawmakers who thought they'd fixed the state's most pressing fiscal problems – a $1.6 billion shortfall for the remaining three months of the fiscal year – took Gov. Bruce Rauner's decisions as a punch to the gut. Those lawmakers would be the majority Democrats, and a Republican, State Sen. Dan Duffy (R-Barrington Hills), said they ought to look in the mirror if they want to see the real problem.
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“Since we're passing an unbalanced budget that didn't fund problems, this was going to happen,” Duffy said, adding the problem was years in the making. “By continuously kicking the can down the road, you are creating this financial mess that's putting these people who have real needs in the state of Illinois in jeopardy.”
Greg Bassi, the state's acting secretary of human services, flailed to defend the cuts while deferring most of the buck to the governor's budget office. “There is a long-term analysis, but I can't give you specifics,” he pleaded to State Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge), who interrupted, “So you believe cutting services for 15,000 people with autism is going to be a way to balance the budget and save taxpayers money” without creating additional expenses later.
“Certainly, this year, yes,” said Bassi, adding, “and over the next couple of years, I don't see that as being a specific item that is going to cause the state increases.”