Illinois House’s vote crucial for local agency and school district

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STERLING, Illinois - For the first time in three years, Michel Miller says she's finally feeling optimistic.

"We`re very hopeful that this is finally coming to an end," said Miller.

Miller is the Executive Director for the Northwestern Center for Independent Living (NICIL) in Sterling. The agency helps people with disabilities live on their own.

However, after three years of on and off state funding, the agency is down to bare bones.

"Living moment to moment isn`t anything anybody should have to do," said Miller.

The agency has had to lay off most of its staff.

"When there`s only four people supposedly to cover the work of 12-15 people that's a nightmare," said Miller.

It's held fundraisers, even closed its doors temporarily to make the little cash savings it has last as long as possible.

"We were literally counting the copy paper when we left on Thursday so that I could buy just what we would need for the next week," said Miller.

Social services aren't alone. Students in the East Moline School District will notice some changes this year.

The district has had to cut everything from teachers to supplies, "Things as small as calculators and PE uniforms for Glenview," said Superintendent Kristin Humphries.

School starts in a month in a half. Superintendent Humphries promises school will stay open for the rest of the year, even though he's not sure yet how.

"Right now, we`re looking at plans if the state were not to have a budget, looking at borrowing and that borrowing cost money," said Humphries.

As for NICIL, if a budget isn't passed soon, the remaining staff will be laid off by the beginning of next month, and eventually it will close for good.

"We have to. We have no other choice," said Miller.

Miller says if a budget is passed, she'll be able to hire more staff.

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