President Donald Trump provoked outrage and panic when he called, in his latest proposed budget for the fiscal year of 2018, for dramatic cuts to initiatives aimed at addressing food insecurity, including the “Meals on Wheels” program that serves low-income seniors. One only has to look at Illinois, which is in the grips of a historic budget crisis, to preview the devastation wrought by deep slashes to such programs.
In 2014, 8.8 percent of Illinois seniors fell below the poverty line. Now, this population is bearing the brunt of sweeping cuts to social programs. “The thing with the Illinois budget impasse is, it’s crushing people,” said Jonathan Becker, the Alton, Illinois-based executive director of Senior Services Plus, in a video produced in partnership by In These Times and Kartemquin Films.
This short film explores the impact of these rollbacks on the lives of ordinary seniors living in small-town Illinois. It is part of an eight-part series, Stranded by the State, which follows the families, workers and students living through these de facto budget cuts and exposes the deterioration of their communities.
Illinois has not passed a real budget in nearly two years, the first state to go that long without a budget since the Great Depression. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has refused to sign off any budget that doesn’t also curtail collective bargaining rights, leading to a showdown with the state’s Democrats.