A Sorry State: The Unfortunate Facts + What Illinois Nonprofits + Funders Can Do to Fight Them

Friday, July 23, 2010

Index1_03[1]It’s no surprise to anyone in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector that Illinois’ economy is in a sorry state.  Everyday, we are confronted with disturbing stories on the front page of the newspaper or from friends and colleagues about vital services being cut, sharply increasing need, lay-offs, and delayed State payments to contracted providers.  Due to a failure of State leadership, the basic services, essential safety nets, and core programs that make Illinois a great place to live are all in danger.

As part of its mission to strengthen the nonprofit sector in Illinois, Donors Forum is collaborating with a variety of organizations to promote accountability of the State through fiscal reform and reform of the human services system.

Voices for Illinois Children, a Donors Forum Partner and a member of Donors Forum's Public Policy Committee, recently released a report through its Tax and Budget Policy Initiative called Passing the Buck: FY 2011 State Budget Threatens Key Programs for Children and Families.  The report closely examines and analyzes the potentially devastating impact of the lump-sum budget passed by the Illinois General Assembly.

Passing the Buck(PDF download) is a disheartening examination of the failure of leadership in Springfield to take responsible action to fix the State’s structural deficit or reduce the huge backlog of unpaid bills and the fundamental need for a more fair and accountable system.  The report addresses four main issues:

  • Lump-sum appropriations for education, healthcare, and human services, as well as additional lump sums to be allocated to the Governor
  • Emergency budget powers enabling the Governor to control spending and make changes in state programs
  • Stop-gap revenue measures that will exacerbate budget problems in future fiscal years
  • The unresolved issue of state pension contributions for FY 2011

With a cumulative deficit nearing $10 billion and a $5 billion backlog of unpaid bills to school districts, human service agencies, and local communities, the report demonstrates how Illinois missed yet another opportunity to responsibly address the ongoing budgetary crisis.  How much longer can we afford to wait?

You can act now to help by reading and endorsing Donors Forum's Fair and Accountable: Partnership Principles for a Sustainable Human Services System.  Other ideas for taking action are here.

~ Laurel O'Sullivan, Senior Director, Public Policy, Donors Forum