Candidates Face Area Social Service Agencies

Article excerpt

Byline: James Fuller jfuller@dailyherald.com

Facing a 14 percent cut in funding for social services to senior citizens and the disabled, local care agencies put current and would-be lawmakers on the hot seat Thursday night.

About a dozen state and county political candidates fielded questions from Kane County social service agencies at Christ Community Church in St. Charles. The agencies believe a recent decision by state lawmakers to move Medicaid and Medicare services under the control of insurance companies by 2015 will place profit margins above community-based care for seniors and the disabled. There are about 24,000 senior citizens and people with disabilities in Kane County who use those social services.

A chapel room filled with caregivers and patients asked the panel how they will improve funding for the services they said they need. Not only that, but they wanted to hear solutions to how to cut waiting lists for services and waiting times for state payments.

Several candidates told the audience they didn't know the answers to those questions. Others provided a series of difficult answers. And 39 area politicians invited to the forum didn't show up.

Cary Collins provided the most direct answer to social service funding woes.

"The state of Illinois is flat out of money," he said.

Collins is the Republican looking to unseat Democrat Mike Noland in the 22nd State Senate race. He voiced a theme echoed in various ways by several Republicans at the forum.

Collins said the key is to bring more money into the system by putting people back to work and bringing new business into the state. He pushed for a cut in the state income tax to lure that new business and suggested the amount of jobs that would create would still result in more income tax flowing into state coffers and social service agencies. …