Stretched Thinner: Social Service Cuts Makes Director 'Quite Angry' | WGLT

Stretched Thinner: Social Service Cuts Makes Director 'Quite Angry'

Feb 6, 2017

Life Cil's main office, at 2201 Eastland Dr., Bloomington
Credit Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT

At least one social service director is beginning to wonder if social service agencies are caught in the middle of the state budget crisis or if the agencies are in the cross hairs.

"For many years, long before the budget impasse started, it's been one of the services the state continually cuts," said Rickielee Benecke, Life Cil's Advocacy and Advancement Director. "We've had, since 2008, either flat funding or budget cuts.

She says it affects businesses because staff doesn't get cost of living expenses, which means they're spending less in the community.

"It is one of the things that makes me quite angry," said Benecke, commenting on decreasing state social service support.

Benecke said during Sound Ideas Life Cil actually saves the state money. She estimated it costs half as much to teach someone to live independently as it does to institutionalize the disabled person.  She also said Rauner's pro-business agenda should include not-for-profit businesses like Life Cil.

LIfe-Cil Advocacy and Advancement Director Rickielee Benecke, working at her desk.
Credit Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT

"The Governor has been talking what's good for business, bringing in business. What he doesn't realize is there are already a lot of great businesses here in this state , saving the state a lot of money, helping a million people and LIfe Cil is absolutely one of those (businesses)," said Benecke.

Benecke says in May 2016, Life Cil was owed about $200,ooo in back due state funds.  She says the financial situation is slightly better, but some important programs have been suspended.

It's been 20 months since the state has had a full time budget.

Editors Note: During our interview series Stretched Thin, we reported on the impact of the state budget impasse on local social service agencies   That was in spring of 2016. There's still no budget. In our new series Stretched Thinner, we check back in with those social social service agencies.