Mt. Vernon Register-News

State News

February 28, 2013

Illinoisans brace for federal cuts, furloughs

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"You make cuts where you can," said Reuter, 51.

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JUSTICE AND LAW ENFORCEMENT

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago is contemplating closing its doors one workday every week, explained Tom Bruton, the court's clerk. If there's no fix for months, it may have to stop holding civil trials.

The yearly operating budget of the court — one of the nation's busiest — is around $16 million. Bruton didn't have exact figures for the looming shortfall but said it could be in the millions of dollars.

The cuts also would force around 1,000 employees working out of the FBI's Chicago office to take 14 unpaid furlough days, including agents working current investigations, said office spokeswoman Joan Hyde.

In an email, Hyde said the federal budget cuts "would undoubtedly impact (the Chicago FBI's task forces') valuable work in areas such as terrorism, violent crimes, crimes against children and white collar crimes."

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SOCIAL SERVICES

Carol Beaney, 57, a disabled resident from Crescent City, arranges a ride in a van equipped with a lift for her power wheelchair whenever she needs to go to a doctor's appointment. The van is part of the special medical services provided by a nonprofit rural transit service called SHOW BUS, and the nonprofit plans to eliminate special medical services if the budget cuts come to pass.

The service helps Beaney live more independently in her own home. Losing transportation could hasten a move to a nursing home or other institution for people like her.

"I sincerely hope (the White House and Congress) are never in my position and have to listen to their future being debated like that," she said.

Laura Dick, the director of SHOW BUS, which serves seven Illinois counties, said county governments could not make up the shortfall in funding.

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