Some Ill. families feel impact of budget veto

July 1, 2009 While there is no budget, the governor says state workers will still get paid and state agencies will still get money at least in the short run.

But it's a different story for the so-called vendors who provide much of the social services across Illinois.

State funding ended on Wednesday for hundreds of programs that help people with disabilities, the elderly and children.

Essentially, the programs are in financial limbo. They can stay open but there is a possibility the state will never pay them for their services. The second choice is to shut down. That's the tough decision one organization made on Thursday night.

The front doors of the Bednorz Children's Respite Home are closed, the backyard and swing set are empty.

Until Thursday, the home would watch disabled children, giving their own families a break for a few hours - even a few days.

Thursday, the program ended.

"Very devastating," said Georgia Smith Howard, grandmother.

It's devastating because Georgia Smith Howard says her grandson, Keith, is 6,2", 180 llbs. and has the mental capacity of a 3-year-old. She watches him 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The home, operated by Ray Graham Association, was her only help.

"Ray Graham provided times for me to go out when I needed just to rest sometimes," said Smith Howard.

Her story is repeated over and over. Joey Taucher stays at the home. So does Chris Eisenschmied. He's 17 and not potty trained.

"If he's not potty trained. You can't get a normal babysitter to help. So from that standpoint, you got to use a service like Bednorz," said Dave Eisenschmied, father of disabled son.

But the facility is now caught up in the budget crunch, frustrating parents like Andrew Fidone who has a disabled son, William.

"The politicians put us in the middle to take care of their political feuds," said Fidone.

"You can cut every single social program there is. You're not going to fix the budget. And that's really the problem," said John Nothdurft, The Heartland Institute.

John Nothdurft is with a think tank that promotes smaller government. He says politicians are using program cuts to get sympathy in hopes of pushing through an income tax hike.

"That's disingenuous because there are so many other places that you need to cut," said Northdurft.

Nothdurft agrees that some programs are necessary for the disabled and their families.

"We give them a gift of time, something they can't get anywhere else and pretty much, we just cut the lifeline they depend on," said Caren Musembi, program director.

It's a lifeline that's over for now.

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