Rauner: Cuts to Social Service Agencies a 'Tragic Loss'

The state's oldest and largest social service provider, Lutheran Social Services, says it's cutting 40 percent of its staff and 30 programs, from family counseling to senior care to drug and alcohol treatment.

Another social service agency, Children's Home and Aid, this morning said it will shut down programs for runaways and at-risk youth in Chicago's South Side Englewood neighborhood.

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Both agencies blame cuts on the state's seven monthslong budgetary standoff.

"There is really no good excuse for the tragic loss of those kinds of services," Gov. Bruce Rauner said on Monday. "It's inexcusable for us not to have a budget by now. We could have and should have done this many months ago. If the majority party in the General Assembly thought that just raising taxes to fund those services, they could do it. They haven't even moved a finger to go do that. They're very comfortable not having a budget, and allowing those services to go away. To me, that's an outrage."

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But Rauner also pointed out that fundamental changes to the system don't happen overnight.

"Change is very difficult. Change takes time," said Rauner. "Nothing important, nothing transformative comes quickly or easily. I don't take the fact that this is taking a long time as anything other than to demonstrate how important it is, and how broken our current system is. The key to success in everything in life is persistence, and I am an extraordinarily persistent person."

Amanda Vinicky joins us with more from Springfield. Below, some highlights from our conversation.

On communication between Gov. Rauner and Speaker Madigan

“The governor may be persistent but perhaps not persistent enough when it comes to meeting with House Speaker Michael Madigan. Depending on who you talk to, you hear whose fault that is. But it does not appear as if all of the leaders have met since before Christmas.”

On progress with the state budget

 “On a state-wide level, we’re not really seeing any movement on a budget deal or budget agreement … Individual legislators will introduce measures that would fund, for example, MAP grants, universities, one program here or there. We have seen bipartisan agreements in the past to come through with funding when really there was an emergency.”

On whether Gov. Rauner and the Democratic leadership might be able to find some common ground

“If you imagine Madigan and [Senate President John] Cullerton, it’s almost as if they’ve been good cop and bad cop a little bit. And despite the pension back and forth, Cullerton says he’s amenable, he’s agreeable. The Speaker [Madigan] always says that he will continue to be cordial to the Governor, but it is clear that these exchanges of public name-calling have not been appreciated… Then again, there may be some talks on, for example, workers' compensation. That has long been seen as one area where maybe they can come together.”

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