The executive director of Western Illinois Agency on Aging says she was hopeful that the state would pass a stopgap budget.
However, she says that only puts her nerves on pause.
She worries this same situation will arise again, come January.
“This year has been devastating with the budget impasse in Illinois with how many people need our services and how we can’t meet that need,” said Barb Eskildsen, the executive director of Western Illinois Agency on Aging.
The non-profit raises money for community agencies who help seniors.
They receive 90 percent of their funding from the federal government, and 10 percent from the state. However, none of this money will be available until the state passes a budget.
“We haven’t gotten increases in funding, now we’ve got long waiting lists for home-delievered meals and if we all have to shut down I don’t know what it’s going to be able to take to start back up again,” Eskildsen said.
The stop gap budget that passed Thursday afternoon will provide the agency funding through December.
Eskildsen says the money will last them through February. She says they will have to close their doors after that… If a full budget has not been passed in Illinois.
“It’s not just our organization facing this,” Eskildsen said.
The agency on aging helps tens of thousands of people throughout Illinois. This includes Medicare counseling. It’s a program Dan and Donna Hayes have been using for more than a decade.
“If I go to the hospital, those agencies aren’t. You might as well talk me into being buried because they is nobody there for me,” Dan said. “These agencies are your voice.”
The Moline couple says help with their medicine has been life-saving.
“No worries about ‘gee, is someone going to be cheaper than me?’ It works great, but they are really worried about not having money to keep it going,” Dan said.
He concluded: “We have to help each other or we ain’t going to make it and if the state shuts us down, we’re all going to need help.”
The stopgap budget is just a small step in the process. Illinois still needs to pass a full-budget by the end of December.
There could be more financial cut-backs between now and then.