Ill. governor backs away from addiction cuts

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Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration on Thursday scaled back plans to slash spending on drug and alcohol treatment, responding to cries of outrage that could be repeated as other programs go under the knife.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration on Thursday scaled back plans to slash spending on drug and alcohol treatment, responding to cries of outrage that could be repeated as other programs go under the knife. Instead of cutting $208 million, Quinn budget office now says addiction programs will be cut only $100 million next month. Deeper cuts are still likely to take effect this summer. The switch comes just a week after the Department of Human Services shocked groups that treat addiction by announcing their state funding would end March 15. The groups said it would force them to halt services to 55,000 clients and lay off 5,000 employees. "I think we’re going to try to ameliorate the reductions so that the various agencies have a little bit more money than they were expecting," Quinn said at an event in Chicago. Quinn spokeswoman Kelly Kraft said the department was able to scale back the cuts by canceling plans to hire some new employees and by finding more federal money for the services. Kraft said she wasn’t sure why those steps weren’t taken in the first place, before the deeper cuts were announced. She said repeatedly that it was the Department of Human Services, not the governor’s budget office, that planned the original cuts. Kraft said it’s not clear how individual treatment providers will be affected by the smaller cuts. The organizations will be given information on the impact over the next two weeks, she said. These cuts take effect with 3 ╜ months still left in the fiscal year. They are in addition to cuts Quinn has proposed in the next budget. Those cuts also would fall heavily on human services and are likely to inspire more protests. Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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