PI Original Robert Dietz Tuesday March 1st, 2011, 3:14pm

Illinois' Sick, Poor, And Children Get Hit In House GOP Budget

A new study shows the potentially devastating effect that the budget proposed by Congressional Republicans would have on the neediest in Illinois.

Having claimed an electoral mandate to slash government spending, Republicans in the House of Representatives in Washington are pushing a proposal that would slash $60 billion out of the current federal budget, almost entirely from domestic programs.

The impact of the House GOP's budget bill are starting to be realized around the country. In Illinois, the cuts, should they be realized, would results in literally hundreds of thousands of people losing access to basic services. Kids would be booted from after-school programs. Community health centers would close. Jobs would be lost. The consequences, to put it simply, would be grave, according to a coalition of non-profit organizations in Illinois.

"If enacted, these cuts will only undermine Illinois' ability to meet its goal of cutting extreme poverty in half by 2015, as addressed by the Commission on the Elimination of Poverty," Doug Schenkelberg, the associate director of policy and advocacy at the Chicago-based Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights, said in a prepared statement.

Heartland, along with the Chicago Jobs Council, the Illinois Hunger Coalition, the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, and Voices for Illinois Children are raising the alarm about the House Republicans' plan and circulating a report called "A Better Budget For All" (PDF). The organizations compiled statistics from a number of groups, including the National Education Association and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. When you apply the cuts to the Land of Lincoln, here are the results, according to the groups:

  • 5,575 young children would not be able to receive Head Start services and 438 Head Start jobs would be lost;
  • 36,664 poor children will lose or have reduced extra academic support and 284 jobs providing that support would be lost;
  • 3,633 children would lose or have reduced after-school programs, and 40 after-school jobs would be lost;
  • 146,828 patients would lose health care they would have received at Community Health Centers over the next year; 4 health center sites would have to close and 263 jobs would be lost;
  • 392,000 low-income Illinois college students would lose some or all of their Pell Grants;
  • 46,603 low-income Illinois college students would lose some or all of their Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants;
  • 137,300 adults, 22,900 dislocated workers and 13,050 youth in Illinois would lose job training and employment services. Job training under the Workforce Investment Act would essentially be shut down until July 2012;
  • 2,638 low income Illinoisans, mostly seniors and some children, would lose food packages;
  • Poor households in federal public housing (two-thirds of which are elderly or have a disability) would see maintenance and repairs on their apartments deteriorate due to a $78.3 million cut in Illinois’ Public Housing Capital Fund;
  • Illinois will lose $117.7 million that it could have used for a wide range of community development projects; and
  • The majority of the approximately 250 households of people with significant and long-term disabilities in Illinois receiving rental assistance will lose their vouchers and are at risk of losing their home because of the 70 percent cut to the Section 811 housing voucher program.

"A Better Budget For All" isn't thrilled with the Obama administration's budget pitch either. Acknowledging the president's ideas take a "more balanced approach," it notes Obama's bill "nevertheless proposes cuts aimed at low-income people and would freeze domestic spending for the next five years, making no allowance for increasing population, inflation or the funding needed for his new initiatives."

As we noted this morning, the budget battle in Washington is fluid -- there's talk of an agreement that would essentially buy both Democrats and Republicans more time to hammer out a broader compromise.

But it's worth pointing out that advocacy groups for the poor and working people haven't been afraid of putting out their own ideas for budget cuts. The Illinois Public Interest Research Group, for example, provides a helpful side-by-side table (PDF) which highlights what gets cut in the Republican budget and the wasteful spending kept in tact. It's no surprise that among what's left in the House GOP bill are expensive subsidies to oil and gas companies ($19 billion), tax loopholes that let firms shelter profits overseas ($500 billion), and orders for obselete military equipment (costing $185 billion).

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