‘Rally in the Southland’ demands action from Springfield

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OAK FOREST, Ill. -- Community leaders and others held a rally today in southwest suburban Oak Forest to express their concern about state budget problems and the impact on Illinois' neediest citizens.

The state budget stalemate has lasted nearly two months.  For non-profit agencies, that means two months without any new state aid.  Some say the state's social service safety net is beginning to unravel.

About 150 people, social service providers and recipients, gathered at the Oak Forest village hall to sound an emergency warning from the Southland to Springfield.

Like agencies throughout the state they are operating on dwindling financial reserves, providing senior and child care and early intervention services despite no new money in weeks.

While state lawmakers continue a bitter back-and-forth battle that is yet to produce a new budget, court action has ensured that a lot of state business can go on through mandatory payments.

But about $3 billion in projected spending on social services is tied up in the mess.

Brendan McCormick, Executive Direction of the Good Shepherd Center, organized today's rally, getting quick participation from dozens of endangered service agencies.

Providers fear that when and if a budget does happen, some agencies may no longer exist.