Why Illinois needs to pass a budget
People and organizations in Illinois are hurting in more ways than one. Families and individuals who depended on government benefits have had to take a serious cut on the financial assistance that they receive. The Ameren PIPP (Percentage of Income Payment Plan) has become non-existent. The LIHEAP program had no summer assistance and will be running a month behind for the 2016 season.
Many people will be far behind or shut off possibly come the Oct 1st date. Although, October 1st, LIHEAP will only be available to seniors and disabled on the first round. Round two, in November, the program will add households with children under six years of age. Then in December, the general public will be able apply. Those who have state regulated utilities might be able to coast by some, as the winter moratorium will take place beginning December 1st and last through March 1st. Although, residents who have local utilities-those could be disconnected by the time they can apply in December.
Into its third month of the new fiscal year, Illinois still has not passed a budget- hurting many state funded agencies and organizations-one being the LIHEAP program. Everything has been pushed back a month, and low-income families are having to tighten their belts even more.
Not only is not passing an Illinois budget hurting low-income families, but it has also affected those who hold jobs within those agencies. There are dedicated individuals who hold positions as LIHEAP intake workers, housing counselors and office coordinators and spend their days helping the people who walk through their doors. When state funds are extremely low or non-existent, agencies are forced to cut back hours and even lay off their employees. If the lay-offs are not extremely long, the employees will come back. Although, if a lay-off lasts for a long period of time, those dedicated workers are forced to find work elsewhere, so they can care for their own families. The agency then loses those loyal workers –who make a difference in the lives of their clients.
Government officials need to realize the condition that they are putting the state in. While they have been busy arguing back and forth about financial situations and wrongful spending, there are families sitting in the dark- both literally – and probably mentally-because they do not know the direction their life will be heading.
Not only will the lights need to be turned on in the homes of hurting families, but a light needs to be shone on the situation within the Illinois government. Change needs to happen soon- or there will be people left out in the cold this winter.
-Ariana R. Cherry