SPRINGFIELD — Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's decision to suspend state payments for indigent funerals has left one of his supporters "confused and surprised" over how the new governor is handling the state budget.
Rep. Dan Brady, a Bloomington funeral home director, was among a majority of Republican lawmakers who voted last month for a fix to the current state budget.
Brady, a member of the House GOP leadership team, cast a "yes" vote thinking the $1.6 billion patch job would keep the state afloat while a new budget is hammered out.
"I was under the impression that action would stabilize things through the end of the fiscal year," he said Tuesday.
On Friday, however, Rauner froze $26 million in funding for a variety of social service programs, including about $6.9 million that pays funeral expenses for poor people.
"I was not anticipating having this type of situation. I'm confused over it," Brady said Tuesday. "I'm confused and surprised."
Brady's reaction was shared by Democrats, who said they believed the deal negotiated with Rauner would leave untouched funding for mental health programs, developmentally disabled residents and autism programs.
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Steve Brown, a spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, said Tuesday that Democrats are reviewing the governor's action.
Brady also said he is seeking answers from Rauner's budget office.
Meanwhilee, he said his funeral business, the Kibler-Brady-Ruestman Memorial Home, will take a hit.
Typically, funeral homes are reimbursed when they provide services for poor people.
Now, however, Brady said funeral homes will provide the services and hope the state eventually pays them back.
"We're going to be doing charity work until the state comes up with a plan," he said.
The cut comes as Rauner is also proposing to eliminate funding for the indigent burial program in the next budget year, which begins July 1.