There's been a lot of talk in recent days about the possibility of massive human services cuts to help the state dig out of its budget hole. Gov. Pat Quinn's administration has been playing defense on the issue, saying that the hundreds of millions in potential cuts were already in the works.
The cuts amount to 10 percent of the state's $4 billion budget for the Department of Human Services. This includes a reported $100 million cut to the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), which the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law says would have a "devastating" effect on services for children. From the Shriver Center:
As of December 2010, there were approximately 188,000 children in the CCAP. A $100 million cut in the CCAP's budget for the remaining four months of FY11 would be approximately a one-third cut in the CCAP's budget. The number of kids affected, and exactly how they would be affected, would depend on how the cut was implemented. But, the straight math, for estimation purposes, is that at least 63,000 children would have to be cut from the program over the remainder of FY11 to save $100 million.
The harsh cuts were predicted back in December when the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability argued that human service programs simply don't hold the same appeal as other general fund-supported programs. But the gloomy scenario put forth by the CTBA was meant as a way to highlight the necessity of passing an income tax hike. Now with the tax increase signed into law, we are still talking about the looming cuts to human services.
David Ormsby, who has been closely monitoring the developments in the fight over the human services budget on his Illinois Issues blog, sees signs that the Quinn administration may be backing off a bit. We'll know more when Quinn unveils his budget next week.