Illinois Republican Lawmakers Criticize Proposed Illinois Human Service Budget Cuts

(Springfield, IL) — April 29, 2011. The Illinois Department of Human Services says it will be forced to cut programs to some of the state’s most vulnerable residents unless it is spared from deep cuts in next year’s budget.

But lawmakers on Thursday questioned the agency’s commitment given the fact that DHS employees received pay raises.

“I don’t know who is more vulnerable in Illinois, tell me who they are,” said State Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Highland, in a heated discussion during a committee meeting. “Bring in your AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) employees and have them stand before us, and tell us that they are more vulnerable than the people at these facilities.”

DHS Secretary Michelle Saddler said the workload for employees has doubled due to layoffs, and that DHS employees have received pay raises that total up to $47 million.

A panel of legislators in a House Appropriations-Human Services Committee grilled Saddler and other DHS directors as the agency presented its line-by-line budget proposal for fiscal year 2012, which starts July 1. The deadline for the budget is May 31. The DHS proposed 2012 budget is $388 million less than its current $3.7 billion budget.