CHICAGO, IL â€“ As the Illinois General Assembly remains in session in Springfield until May 31, the Illinois Department of Veterans seeks to highlight the impact of pending FY2015 budget decisions.
In his annual budget address on March 26, 2014, Governor Quinn proposed a 5-year budget plan which maintains veteran and other critical state services. His budget relies upon a proposal to maintain current income tax rates, which are set to expire in January 2015, while also providing significant property tax relief â€“ a $500 refund for every Illinois homeowner every year. In Governor Quinnâ€™s proposed budget, the IDVA funding request is $148M, representing an $8.7M increase in the stateâ€™s General Revenue funds in order to meet the increased care requirements of veterans residing in IDVAâ€™s four Veterans Homes in Quincy, Anna, LaSalle, and Manteno.
â€œGovernor Quinn clearly remains steadfastly committed to supporting Illinois veterans,â€Â said Erica Borggren, Director, Illinois Department of Veteransâ€™ Affairs.Â â€œWe appreciate his leadership in holding the line on Veteran issues and providing services and support to those who have born the burden of service.â€
Absent action by the General Assembly on the expiring income tax rates, Illinois faces a huge shortfall of funds for the FY15 budget â€“ to the tune of $1.8 billion. IDVA could face a 22% or greater cut in state General Funds for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2014.
A cut of this scale to IDVA would have a real, direct impact on veteran services for the stateâ€™s more than 740,000 veterans â€“ especially given that, when state funds are cut, IDVA also loses federal and other funds tied to them.
IDVA would likely have to close multiple Veterans Homes, evicting current residents and laying off hundreds of associated staff. We would also have to close the Prince Home for Homeless & Disabled Veterans in Manteno and scores of our Veteran Service Offices â€“ as well as cease payments on grants such as headstone placement funding, education stipends for children of veterans killed in combat, and many others.
Additional details of the IDVA FY 2015 Budget is available at budget.illinois.gov
IDVA information can be found on page 51 of the FY 2015 Agency Fact Sheets;
Increased federal veteran benefits: Increased federal benefits claimed by Illinois veterans by $10 million. Illinois veterans received over $43.9 million dollars in federal benefits in fiscal year 2013 through assistance by our field services staff adjudicating federal claims. This represents a $10 million increase from fiscal year 2012, as well as 36,200 more veterans served than in fiscal year 2012.
Awarded state grants to 5,173 veterans. Increased efficiency of grants and field services operations through the launch of CyberVet, an IDVA-developed software tool that creates electronic veteran records and claims.
Provided additional long-term care to veterans. Provided professional and compassionate care to more than 900 residents in veteransâ€™ homes and received an average rating of 9.28 out 10 from residents and families through the first resident satisfaction survey. The Illinois veteransâ€™ homes claimed $31.6 million federal dollars in fiscal year 2013.
Supported more homeless veterans. Increased the number of homeless veterans who enrolled in and graduated from the Prince Home, which houses and equips veterans for successful transition to self-sufficiency. In fiscal year 2013, 17 homeless veterans were admitted to the Prince Home, 259 were assisted with after-care services and 735 homeless or at-risk veterans were assisted with advocacy services.