Illinois lawmakers have mixed feelings on plan to fund some social services

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ROCK ISLAND, Illinois - Illinois lawmakers are getting another chance to make a dent in the state's budget stalemate.

When they return to Springfield on Tuesday, April 12, 2016, they could look over a financial lifeline for social services.

Packing boxes symbolize pressure on social service agencies in Illinois.

That's because each file represents a family.

"I really feel the pain of this will be generational," said Program Director Sharon Patten.

The budget impasse is forcing providers like Lutheran Social Services to make drastic cuts and closures.

"They really just need to pass a budget," Patten continued.

Illinois Republicans are floating a plan to toss a $1.3 billion lifeline to programs.

But the bill is also tied to pension reform, which is a non-starter for Democrats.

"The people that need those services shouldn't have to wonder, are the doors going to stay open?" asked Illinois Rep. Don Moffitt, (R) Galesburg.  "Let's make sure that there's funding, whatever it takes."

At the Quad City Chamber's Legislative Luncheon on Monday, there are mixed feelings about the funding proposal.

That's because pension reform is tied to Gov. Bruce Rauner's  "Turnaround Agenda"  and already faced a lengthy court challenge.

"Probably makes it impossible," said Illinois Rep. Mike Smiddy, (D) Hillsdale.  "Everyone understands that it would be held out because they'll have to go to court."

The proposal characterizes deep divisions between Democrats and Republicans.

It leaves Illinois cities and programs in limbo.

While the budget mess spared public schools, educators are making grim warnings about funding delays.

"It's going to come to a point where school districts are going to have to close their doors," said Wethersfield Superintendent Shane Kazubowski.

Still, there's little hope in the short run.

"We've seen for far too long politics being put before people," said Illinois Sen. Neil Anderson, (R) Moline.  "It's got to stop."

Stop, before the state mess sends other agencies packing.