The Register-Mail

State’s backlog to KCCDD mounts

Thursday, September 30, 2010

GALESBURG — The state owes KCCDD $2.2 million in backlogged payments and the group is being forced to borrow to meet its bills, a problem it shares with agencies that provide social services across Illinois.

KCCDD has been struggling with funding cuts and delays since 2008 but officials with the group have little confidence the problem will be addressed until after the November elections, with politicians wary of making decisions that could harm them at the polls. The state’s huge deficit has resulted in long delays and cuts in funding to non-profits and agencies that depend on state money to get by.

“We’ve limped along since the summer of 2008,” KCCDD finance director Jeff Gomer said.

That was when KCCDD, which provides services to the developmentally disabled and seniors, began borrowing to offset a lag in state funding. At present, the state is about five months behind in its funding to KCCDD, putting a severe squeeze on the group’s finances.

Gomer said the group has cut out spending on discretionary items and has little room left to maneuver.

At Bridgeway, another major local non-profit that provides services to the developmentally disabled and others, there’s also anxiety about what the future holds.

is always that cloud hanging over us that they could come in with cuts and reductions at any time,” said Bridgeway Chief Operating Officer Bill Nelson.

About $1 million in funding for non-Medicaid mental health services to Bridgeway has been cut by the state. The services impacted are for people who don’t qualify for Medicaid but still can’t afford to pay for counseling and other support.

Nelson said the cut would mean some people would face a cap on the amount of services they can receive. Fewer people will be served in areas including help to get jobs.

The amount of funding KCCDD will receive for this fiscal year, which began in July, is still unclear. But more cuts could be on the way. Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady has said he would push for a 10 percent cut in state funding across the board if he’s elected in the fall. Gomer said the consequences of Brady’s proposal would be disastrous.

“It would have a devastating impact ... we cannot take any more cuts,” he said. “We are at the bottom of the barrel.”

Per-capita funding for social services in Illinois is one of the lowest in the country and Brady’s plan would reduce the figure further, potentially resulting in a loss of services for many vulnerable members of society.

State Rep. Don Moffitt, R-Gilson, said the state should pay money already promised to groups like KCCDD. If that happened, cuts to future funding would be easier to manage.
“If they really got paid in a timely manner they could survive some cuts,” he said.

One reason Moffitt voted against the state’s budget for this fiscal year was because he felt it did not address the issue of delayed state payments to non-profits, school districts and other groups. The budget actually extended the payment schedule, putting more pressure on groups that depend on state funding.

“Ignoring the problem does not make it go away,” Moffitt said. “We still owe what the state said it would pay.”
The state is faced with a crippling $13 billion deficit. Gov. Pat Quinn has proposed raising the state income tax to help dig the state out of the hole. If elected, Brady said he would oppose tax increases and would cut spending to close the funding gap.

Nelson said revenue needed to be raised and spending cut to begin to restore the state to a more solid footing and allow groups like Bridgeway and KCCDD to have more certainty about the funding they depend on.

“We are still nervous about how the state is going to do financially,” he said. “The fact of the matter is, whoever is successful is going to have to adjust things in both directions.”