As lawmakers work on budget deal, social services continue to suffer

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It is Day 687 without a budget in the state of Illinois. Republicans and Democrats say they’re ready to work together but the finger-pointing and nasty rhetoric continues.

As this epic fight wages on, more and more social service providers are feeling the strain of not having funding.

Lutherbrook Child and Adolescent Center in Addison is preparing to close by the end of the summer.

Lutherbrook helps some of society’s most vulnerable -- children traumatized by violence or neglect.  Most of the center’s residents are DCF wards.

During the 22 month budget stalemate, Lutherbrook has been receiving partial funding thanks to court-order, but it needs more support.

When the center closes, the kids will be moved and staff, like 42 year veteran Louie Zaino, will be out of a job.

“It’s not enough to operate a center with 50 kids and with a lot of treatment they need. Everything from the light bill, the water bill, to therapists, -- it’s quite the task,” Zaino said. “It’ s never  quite enough as far as the state budget is concerned.”

Today in Springfield, Democrats in the Senate tried to push forward a budget deal.

Senators passed gaming expansion, including a Chicago casino.  They also passed school funding reform, a measure to borrow money to pay the state’s bill backlog and a 36.5 billion budget bill.

A two-year property tax freeze failed.

Republicans complained the votes were held before negotiations were complete.

“I simply wish we would have worked to bring the entire package together – property tax relief, job creating reforms and a balanced budget in a bipartisan way,” said Republican Senator Bill Brady.

While lawmakers worked inside the capital, outside, Chicago Public Schools stakeholders rallied to demand more funding.

The Rauner administration says it wants to make sure that every district is adequately funded.  But CPS faces an immediate crisis. The district has a $129 million budget shortfall in the wake of Rauner’s veto of $215 million in pension relief.

Chicago Mayor Emanuel says no matter what CPS will complete the school year. Keep in mind only one chamber acted today -- the House still needs to weigh in.  These votes come as the campaign continues. Today, we learned billionaire hedge fund founder Ken Griffin gave the Rauner campaign $20 million. The governor had already pumped $50 million of his own money into his account.


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