- Associated Press - Friday, January 22, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The state’s largest private provider of human-service programs, Lutheran Social Services, announced Friday it is closing 30 programs serving 4,700 people because of the budget stalemate.

President and CEO Mark Stutrud said the agency will lay off 750 employees - about 43 percent of its staff.

Faced with overdue bills from the state totaling $6 million, Lutheran Social Services will cut a variety of programs, including those providing seniors’ in-home care, substance-abuse help, mental health counseling and homeless shelter services.

Like many state-funded nonprofits during the seven-month standoff between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democrats who control the Legislature, Lutheran Social Services has relied on bank loans and money from its foundation, but no longer, Stutrud said.

He said the 149-year-old agency is eliminating programs most dependent on state funding and restructuring to respond to “an anticipated lingering state financial crisis.”

“We know this will impact clients, their families, our employees, and communities throughout Illinois,” Stutrud said in a statement. “We made these choices with a long-term view of the organization and its mission, and ultimately the ability to continue serving people.”

Rauner and legislative Democrats have been unable to agree on a budget for the year that began July 1. Rauner wants fundamental changes to Illinois law to boost business and curb union power while Democrats say they must erase a multibillion-dollar deficit with a tax hike and spending cuts.

“Gov. Rauner is frustrated by the lack of action in Springfield,” spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said. “He stands ready to work with the General Assembly to pass structural reforms along with a balanced budget so we can adequately fund social services.”

The Lutheran Social Services programs facing the largest cuts are those helping seniors, such as an adult daycare program in Moline. The agency has not received state reimbursement for programs such as adult drug and alcohol treatment in Chicago and Elgin, community counseling and prisoner-and-family programs at several locations.

The agency said it will strive to continue providing other mental health and substance-abuse services, pre-Kindergarten education, residential programs for developmentally disabled adults, foster care, senior housing and home care, and programs linking children with imprisoned parents.

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Online: https://www.lssi.org/

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Contact Political Writer John O’Connor at https://twitter.com/apoconnor . His work can be found at https://bigstory.ap.org/content/john-oconnor .

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