Illinois budget deficit takes toll on departments - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Illinois budget deficit takes toll on departments

MURPHYSBORO, IL (KFVS) - Illinois taxpayers will have a little extra cash in their pockets in 2015, but that also means a state budget deficit of nearly $3 billion for the fiscal year that ends in June.

Without knowing how much will be cut, Jackson County Health Department Director Miriam Link-Mullison, said it's all about decision making.

“It just puts a stress on everyone and figure out what are the things that are of the highest priority and continue to provide those services,” Link-Mullison said.

She said preparing for potential cutbacks isn't something out of the ordinary.

“The uncertainty that faces the public sector right now isn't the uncertainty of potential budget cuts, it's budget cuts after eight years of budget cuts,” Link-Mullison said.

 Since 2008, the department has let go 13 percent of its employees.  

“Every time a position becomes available, I'm assessing,” Link-Mullison said. “Is there some way we can do this with on a part time basis instead of a full time position? Is there some way I can connect the job to another job and just not hire this position?”

Mechelle Bennett said she appreciates what the health department does for her and her son and mentioned it would be difficult if some services were cut.

“I think it would be tough for moms to go somewhere else and find something new. Moms would have to find other assistance for their kids,” Bennett said.

Although the department faces potential cuts, administrators say they will continue to make sure the core services will be present for the community, in order to protect the public's health.

“The restaurant inspection, private sewages inspections, monitoring of communicable diseases and the efforts to reduce the spreads of disease are core functions of health that we will continue to maintain,” Link-Mullison said.

Nothing has been set in stone yet in terms of how much may get cut. 

The Jackson County Health Department did state employees did receive a 2 percent increase this year, due to cutting several positions. 

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