Illinois budget crisis far from over

Illinois budget forum in Moline brings ongoing problems to light

It's a vicious financial cycle in the state of Illinois.

AARP says they're using their resources to sponsor an Illinois Budget Forum that has been traveling throughout the state. On Tuesday night, it stopped in Moline. Bob Gallow, State Director for AARP Illinois, says the point of the forum is to keep the financial crisis in the spotlight. 

"Even though a budget did finally pass after two years of not having one, there's still significant problems in Illinois with the budget crisis."

Residents at Tuesday's forum say while lawmakers passed a budget back in July, there are still unanswered questions. 

The forum is a collaboration of organizations including NPR News and City Views. Long-time Illinois residents had a chance to voice their concerns. 

Jerome Montez is a resident of East Moline and says Illinois has been home all his life. He spoke to the panel and asked about the future of education, and what lies ahead for the future of the state. 

"I want to see a better state, a better state going on from here on out, " said Montez.

Alternatives for Older Adults is a human resources agency in the Quad Cities that lets people who quality for nursing home care live independently. They say the services they provide to help those residents will take a serious hit if those funds don't start to come in. Of their 3,000 residents, nearly half could end up in a nursing home without funding.

"We're saving the state about 10 to 1 to help people stay in their own home, and it's the right thing to do," said Kathy Weiman, Director of Alternatives.  

For Blackhawk College, the state money coming in won't keep the students from moving out.

"I think the biggest problem that we're seeing across the state is the exodus of students, no longer thinking Illinois is a solid, firm foundation for their education," said Dr. Bettie Truitt, President of Blackhawk College. "Which is unfortunate because i do believe we have one of the best educational systems in the country."

Directors of Tuesday's forum say raising awareness on the budget problems could prevent a future crisis, urging residents to get involved.

"There are individuals that are affected by this and have been greatly affected by this, but we also want other people to realize that if you've not felt this budget crisis yet, you're going to," said Gallow. 

And while some temporary financial fixes may be in place, a long road to recovery lies ahead for Illinois. 

"It's going to be years before we see the light at the end of the tunnel," said Gallow. 


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