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Future of state programs in danger

SPRINGFIELD -- State leaders warn funding for some programs is drying up.
SPRINGFIELD -- State leaders warn funding for some programs is drying up. If more money isn't found, those programs could close before summer. WCIA-3's Ashley Michels keeps us Connected to the Capitol.

According to Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, the state needs at least $1 billion to keep it all going. It would fund the programs for the next six months. Otherwise, major cuts will hurt some of those in the state who need it most.

"I have lived here in Illinois for 81 years."

Georgia Cose is the only person from her family left in the state. She needs help getting around and doing basic household chores.

"I don't know if I could do laundry or not."

So she relies on a state program called Community Care. It lets 80,000 seniors, like Cose, keep living at home.

"It's great. I have a little gal who comes in every day, two hours every day."

Something she says she couldn't afford on her own.

"I don't know what we'd do. I'm on a fixed budget as it is. If they cut that out, I'm hurting."

Without it, she'd have to live in a nursing home.

"Like living where they take care of you? Nah. I want to be able to do my own thing and go downstairs or do whatever I want to. I can go to bed when I want to. I can eat when I want to."

But all that could change if lawmakers don't fix the state's budget. Community Care is $200 million short.

It's not the only program suffering. DCFS needs $25 million or it could start laying off. Worker's Comp needs more than $80 million to keep its benefits going. A health insurance fund for state workers is almost $1 billion short.

Comptroller Topinka says taking leftover money from other state agencies could help fill the gap. But, Cose says, in the meantime, she's worried about her future.

"What can I do? I just have to cross my fingers and hope to God it all works out."

Even if lawmakers can't agree on a way to get programs like this the extra money, they won't shut down for good. There would just be a break in payments and services until the new budget kicks in July 1.
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