Illinois service organizations will benefit from state's windfall

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Reporter/Photojournalist - Kathryn DiGisi

CARBONDALE, Ill. - The state of Illinois owes charities and social service agencies a lot of money they were promised, and to make up for some of that deficit, lawmakers have set aside $1.2 Billion dollars in the budget for them.

As of April of this year, the state's debt to social service agencies was reduced from $8.5 Billion to $5.8 Billion.

In the great scheme of things, that is not much, but it is progress.  Many fear that progress will be short-lived.

Over the past few years, the Boys and Girls Club's state budget has been decreasing by about 45-percent, but this year it will actually go up by seven percent.

It is not great, but it is better, and Executive Director Randy Osborn says at this point, he will take what he can get, gratefully.

If you were to walk through the door of the Boys and Girls Club in Carbondale, you would find children playing hard and working hard.

Osborn says the club receives money to operate from donors, grants and a state-funded program called "Teen Reach."

"In the last five years, Teen Reach has gone down from approximately $48,000 here at this club, to currently we receive about $28,000," said Osborn.

Osborn says the club's curriculum suffers when funds are cut or state-owed debts are not paid.

"As we lost funding we were less able to provide the same level of mentors, the same level of staffing," said Osborn.

Osborn anticipates the club will see an extra $2,000 and although that does not sound like much, to an organization that runs mainly on donations, it is significant.

"A part-time person that's make $300 to $350 a week, that would be six weeks worth, or five weeks worth of pay for that person. As it is right now, we're looking toward donors or some other funding source," said Osborn.

Osborn says his fear is that our kids will be forgotten while the state works through the financial crisis.

Local 6 also reached out to the H Group, a behavior health services organization, in Marion to find out how the windfall will benefit them.

CEO John Markley had this to say: "the state has not been a good business partner...we have outstanding receivables of about $4 million,  $2.5 million of that is Medicaid. I'm pretty sure we should benefit from this windfall."

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