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Workers feeling the ripple of Illinois deficit

More than 300 workers play the waiting the game, while Illinois officials scramble to keep up with backlog. Homecare workers for the elderly, who have not received their paychecks which cover the first two-weeks in March, wonder how they're going to pay rent. Meantime, state Aging Department officials blame the backlog on the State
Comptroller's office and Illinois' budget deficit.
More than 300 homecare workers for the elderly continue to wait for their paychecks which they were supposed to receive on March 22. Workers at American Spanish Institute, a non-profit community-based elderly home care agency, were told that ASI was still waiting to receive its payment from the Illinois Department of Aging. ASI Director Rebecca Cruz says she's already borrowed her credit limit of $850,000 to pay her workers. Her agency has allegedly not seen any state funds since January 7, 2002. ASI is not the only agency waiting to receive state funds. Cruz says other non-profit homecare providers are also waiting to get their money. Fred Kimball, who serves as Community Care Director for the Illinois Department of Aging, says the state is in an "overall precarious position." He admits that the State Comptroller has a "cash-flow situation." Kimball says the Comptroller's office is running about seven-weeks behind schedule and that there's a "backlog of payments." Although he is concerned about the workers' situation, his main worry is that "it's going to jeopardize services to seniors."
Apparently, this is not just an Illinois issue. Kimball believes state budget deficits are occuring around the country. Still, where does that leave ASI workers like Myrna Martinez? Workers' next payday is April 12, but until then who's going to cover rent? Meantime, ASI officials are meeting with bank officials to see if they can be covered until the State Comptroller pays its share.



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