The Illinois comptroller met with leaders of Rockford-area nonprofit organizations on Wednesday to talk about the state budget impasse and its effect on human services. Leslie Munger says the situation in Springfield is an inherited problem that can't be solved by taxes alone.
“The longer this gridlock continues and the longer this pile of bills becomes, the longer it takes for us to pay all of you the money we owe you,” Munger said. "Those of you who are not covered under any of these court orders, you have been probably waiting since July for payments.”
Fiona Cummings, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois, says that, even though her organization doesn’t receive state funding directly, she wanted Munger to be aware of the ripple effect of the budget standoff.
Cummings says most of their funding comes through cookie sales, “and the rest of our funding comes from private individuals and United Ways and community foundations, and it is these—the community foundations and the United Ways—that are drastically cutting back on what they’re able to give us because they are diverting their funds towards the essential human service organizations.”
Munger told the group a tax increase alone won’t be enough to get the state out of growing debt.
“If we go down that path of taxes only, it will be devastating for our state’s economy because businesses will say, ‘Been there, done that, I have options, we are out of here,’" Munger said. "I am a strong proponent that we gotta to do something that helps everyone — social services, state, schools, union, non-union — we gotta get some of these done.”
She said one of the main priorities should be overhauling workers’ compensation costs.
"We are way out of whack. This ought to be something we can get agreement on," Munger said. "I think that, if we could get agreement on something like that, the governor would say ‘Okay, I can agree to sign a tax increase.' This will be a big savings. It helps everyone, except maybe the trial attorneys who fund the Speaker.”
Meanwhile in Springfield, thousands of union workers rallied near the statehouse to protest what they call anti-labor policies by Gov. Bruce Rauner. The Governor says companies are leaving the state because of unfriendly business policies.