Don't scapegoat people with needs
There is much ado recently about whether the Illinois temporary tax hike should be extended or made permanent. The politics of blame make the headlines, but the governor and legislature have put education and social services in a precarious position with threats of massive funding cuts if the tax isn't continued.
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I could mention how state government has grown by an average of 6 percent a year, while human services has to battle every year to get break-even funding, as costs and demand continue to escalate with no offsetting service rate increases. Caught in the middle are the people and their families who need mental health and disability services.
Human service agencies have become political pawns and have been forced to respond to the threats of draconian funding cuts; begging to protect our programs through the only option presented -- extending the temporary tax.
Lost in the absurdity of our forced choice is the reality that almost 90 percent of the money Pioneer Center for Human Services receives goes directly to programs and services. This is not some abstract video game or paper politics, but real lives of people with depression, substance use challenges, autism, developmental disabilities, homelessness and other challenges who will lose critical services and supports if funding is cut.
This isn't a matter of party affiliation or politics, but a matter of real people. Isn't it time for politicians to stop playing with people's lives to balance budgets? Time to stop making political pawns of people with disabilities, families, staff and service providers? Time to make our legislators do their jobs?
Stop the bickering and waste. Use our hard-earned taxpayer moneys to fulfill the obligation every free society prioritizes; make education and human services a precedent, not a scapegoat.
President/CEO Pioneer Center for Human Services