Gov. Bruce Rauner is defending his decision to suspend $26 million in grants to public health and social services programs. As part of cuts to fill the $1.6 billion hole in the current budget, Rauner immediately cut off funding to certain autism and HIV awareness programs, anti-smoking campaigns, and immigrant services. Rauner says the cuts may not be permanent, but he doesn’t have any timeline on deciding which grants could be reinstated.
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“We don’t know yet. It’s going to be a process to review each grant and decide which ones should go forward and which ones shouldn’t,” Rauner said. “Right now, we’re just getting a handle on the government cost, because we’ve been spending money we don’t have.”
At least one of the affected programs—immigrant integration services, which funds English language and citizenship application workshops—is proposed to have all its funding cut off in Rauner’s budget plan for the next fiscal year.
As for what funds could be used to restore these grants, Rauner says “anything can be on the table” except borrowing, which he isn’t an appropriate option outside of capital construction projects with long-term benefits.