“It’s been the difference between life or death.” Businesses face severe impacts of Illinois budget crisis

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PARIS, Ill. (WTHI) – 2017 marks the second year Illinois is operating without a budget because lawmakers unable to agree on state funds.

Residents, businesses and other state programs are all impacted.

“We don’t have a budget in place, we don’t know if we’ll be paid for the services we provide by state contracts and we’re back in limbo,” said Ken Polky, Executive Director of the Human Resources Center in Illinois.

The HRC helps people with substance abuse, mental disabilities, developmental disabilities, mental illnesses counseling, school mentoring and much more.

You’ll find a sign on HRC’s door with fewer hours because their budget has been severely cut. Employees like Polky are now working for nearly minimum wage.

“$9.35 an hour,” said Polky. “That includes people with 10, 20 years of experience. That includes people with even master’s degrees. $9.35 cents an hour.”

Mental health counseling is just one of many state services affected by the Illinois budget crisis. With legislators unable to agree on a state budget, social service employees are facing severe pay cuts.

According to Polky, those truly suffering are the patients they serve.

“We have seen already where it has been the difference between life or death,” said Polky. “We have had people come to us and say if it wasn’t for HRC I would be dead now”.

“Now what person on either side of the political aisle would disagree with helping people become employed and independent citizens,” said Polky. “It just doesn’t make sense that they would work against programs that help people become taxpayers as opposed to a tax burden.”

There’s currently a waiting list of 80 people needing HRC’s services.

Some Illinois legislators did see the need to fund social services. They proposed a bill to increase funding in this area but it was vetoed by the governor this past fall.

Their process to overturn that decision failed.

News 10 will continue to keep you updated as the budget crisis continues.