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Politicizing human services

Published: Monday, June 2, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

To the Editor:

There is much ado about the Illinois temporary tax increase being extended or made permanent.

While blame and criticism make headlines, education and social services are put in a precarious position with threats of massive cuts if the tax isn’t continued.

As state government grows 6 percent per year, human services battle and fight every year to get break-even funding, falling behind as costs and demand escalate with no offsetting increases. In the middle are the people and families who need mental health and disability services and staff who provide services.

Human service agencies have become pawns and forced to respond to threats of draconian cuts, begging to protect programs through the only choice given: extending the temporary tax. Lost in this absurdity is the reality that almost 90 percent of the money Pioneer Center for Human Services receives goes directly to programs and services.

This is not some abstract video game, but real lives of people with depression, substance use challenges, autism, developmental disabilities, homelessness and other human and social conditions who will lose critical services and supports.

This isn’t a matter of party affiliation or politics, but a matter of real people. It’s time for politicians to balance budgets. People with disabilities, families, staff and service providers are not political pawns.

Stop the bickering and waste and use our hard-earned taxpayer monies to fulfill the obligation every free society prioritizes. Make education and human services a priority, not a scapegoat.

Patrick Maynard

President and CEOPioneer Center for Human Services

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