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Wednesday, June 7

Social Workers Call for End to Stop-Gap Budgets

NASW-Illinois Chapter

Chicago, IL— The National Association of Social Workers, Illinois Chapter today calls on the Illinois General Assembly to end discussions about yet another stop-gap budget and instead focus on passing a balanced budget, one that will fully fund our state’s human services needs before our social safety net completely collapses.

We are entering into our third year without a state budget, an unprecedented collapse of leadership that is driving human service agencies and practitioners away and closing doors for good. The clients our members serve cannot wait until the 2018 election to get the life-saving assistance they need. The time for action is now.

For two years, the human service agencies and private practitioners have carried the fiscal burden of a state that lacks the will or ability to perform its most basic reasonability: passing a balanced budget. Illinois businesses are now teetering on collapse after rounds of cuts and years of borrowing to stay open. These are not multi-billion dollar corporations like Exelon; these are domestic violence clinics, violence prevention programs, senior and special needs servicing organizations, and so many more like them that make up the backbone of the Illinois safety net. They are being used as a pawn in a disastrous and inexcusable game of “budget chicken” where the losers are the poorest and weakest among us. We call on the Illinois General Assembly to put people before politics and pass a balanced budget.

A stop-gap is like a BandAid for a wound three times the size of the bandage. Every day we go without funding, Illinois residents go without the care they need and a very real work force development problem grows larger. As agencies critical to our state layoff employees or close operations, mental health professionals are leaving the profession altogether. While larger municipalities may recover with new talent, large areas of our state--particularly in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) located in mostly rural areas---will suffer irreparable damage.

The Illinois Constitution does not allow one man to hold a budget in limbo unless the Illinois General Assembly allows him to. We need rank and file legislators from both parties to step up and pass a balanced budget and refuse to support yet another stop-gap budget or lifeline. While we understand the need to open schools on time, help gaming, save nuclear plant jobs, or help whichever special interest group has the attention and lobbyist support for their agenda, we are asking that legislators refuse to relive pressure for a budget or go along with any plan that pushes a lifesaving solution out to 2019.

We recognize the difficulties of passing anything in an environment where 2018 contenders are already up in the media, and we understand that legislators might be hesitant to go against deep-pocketed leaders. However, we would be remiss if we didn’t remind elected officials that they were not sent to Springfield to create gotcha roll calls or catchy mailers---they are sent there to create solutions. We are asking you now to create a solution to a problem you have made worse.

While difficult it is possible, as we saw when Illinois legislators came together to pass a last-minute bailout for ComEd. The NASW-Illinois Chapter is now calling for the same cooperation to save the very human service organizations and businesses who save so many people in our state.

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is the largest membership organization of professional social workers in the world, with 150,000 members and over 7,000 in Illinois alone. NASW works to enhance the professional growth and development of its members, to create and maintain professional standards, and to advance sound social policies.


Posted on 06/07/17 at 02:21 PM


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