June 30, 2015; Progress Illinois

When politicians are deadlocked and unable to compromise, everyone suffers.  The fallout over a failure to agree on spending hits non-profits, which disproportionately rely on public funding, particularly hard, as the situation in Illinois illustrates.

Some 300 Illinois non-profits joined forces and urged the state’s governor and legislature this past week to “work together to pass a fair, adequate and fully-funded” budget before the new fiscal year starts.  That obviously did not happen as of July 1.

The plea came in the form of a letter, according to Progress Illinois, a website covering state politics, funded by the Service Employees Union International, which has a big stake in both state government and the non-profit sector.  Non-profit leaders are concerned over the budget uncertainty and the possible layoffs and service reductions if a state spending plan is not adopted.

“Lacking direction from state agencies, nonprofits have no idea how much state funding they can expect or when that funding might begin,” the letter reads. “As a result, nonprofits across the state have no choice but to contemplate and, in some cases execute, plans to terminate services, lay off staff, and close service sites . . . If the state defaults on its responsibility to provide nonprofits with some level of fiscal certainty and adequate funding so that they can operate using sound business practices, we all pay the price in the short- and long-term.”

Illinois’ Republican governor and Democratic leaders are deadlocked over a budget for the 2016 fiscal year. The government faces at least a partial government shutdown beginning this month.—Larry Kaplan