Budget impasse places strain on local shelter

Illinois State Comptroller Leslie Munger says she doesn’t have the money to pay the state’s bills for essential services like education, health care, and social services.

Without a budget deal in place, Munger says the state is on track to face an $8.5 billion deficit by December.

Over the past calendar year the Good Samaritan House has served more than 32,000 meals to families in need in southern Illinois but, according to assistant director Patty Mullens, their ability to keep food on the table is threatened by the state budget impasse.

"With the state budget impasse, this is the time of year where we typically see those funds. And not having them, we’re at a real shortfall," said Mullens.

At this point the state has withheld more than $100,000 from Good Samaritan Ministries, or about one fifth of their budget, forcing them to make cuts.

"Right now, we’ve cut our assistance program off," said Mullens.

That means electric bills and even rent go unpaid for some people who rely on those services.

"There’s a lot of people here who show up with just the clothes on their back," said Mullens

The Illinois Board of Education has chipped in to cover meals for children.

With the legislature scheduled to recess  in October, Mullens is looking for ways to save money.

"Breakfast doesn’t seem to get a lot of people, so maybe that would be something we would look at," said Mullens.  "Our community is very supportive of us, we depend on them, and they keep our doors open."

Despite the funding issues, Mullens says Good Samaritan Ministries will not close their doors. However, they will look at scaling back staffing and services.

Good Samaritan Ministries relies on donations for more than 50 percent of their budget.

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