Lay Me Down to Sleep

In the race to see who can be the Midwest’s biggest asshole, Illinois Gov. Rauner makes his move: 

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) has decided the state will no longer help pay for poor people’s funerals to reduce a $1.6 billion budget shortfall.

The Illinois Funeral & Burial Benefits program cost the state $9.5 million in the 2014 fiscal year. The state won’t reimburse indigent residents for funerals and burials after Jan. 15, according to the Illinois Department of Human Services. The program will be discontinued altogether next year as part of a wide range of social services and public health cuts.

“We didn’t arrive at any of these decisions lightly,” department spokeswoman Veronica Vera said an in interview. “We needed to make tough choices to balance the budget, so we needed to determine what grants could be suspended to preserve core services.”

The Funeral & Burial Benefits program served 8,649 poor in the last fiscal year, Vera said, likely covering just a portion of funeral costs. The program offered up to $1,103 for funerals and $552 for cremations or burials for people who qualified for certain federal and state welfare programs at the time of their deaths. Eligible Illinois residents have a year to submit claims for funeral and burial costs incurred from October through mid-January.

Caring for the dead is one of the oldest ways to be a human. It’s the way we knew the Neanderthals were evolved: They laid each other gently down. We look at the graves of civilizations past to see how they lived. What was important to them. What they took with them and what they left behind. If we judge others by how they treat their dead, who now are we?

(On a lighter note, here’s a moron: 

SPRINGFIELD | 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.

State Rep. Dan Brady, a Bloomington funeral home director, was among a majority of Republican lawmakers who last month voted 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,” Brady 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.”

I didn’t think he’d screw ME over. I mean, I’m his bud! I just thought he’d screw over minorities, the poor, women, people with developmental disabilities and other people who aren’t me. I’m his friend! I voted for him! It’s ridiculous!)

This isn’t about fixing the state budget and it isn’t about solving any crisis that isn’t of our own making. This is just about how hard we can punish those among us who have the least. The living can argue about what they are due. I suppose that makes this easier. The dead don’t talk back.

A.

3 thoughts on “Lay Me Down to Sleep

  1. The dead don’t talk back. Exactly. And the people who would speak for them, don’t have a lot of power. Because unlike the Funeral Home director, they are not getting donations from them. I wonder what kind of government subsidies that the rich are getting that could be cut that would equal 9.6 million in the state budget? Of course you would need to find a group that isn’t powerful to cut. Or a group that is hated. How about some Wall Street Banker types who sold the State deals where they made 9.6 million in fees? or 905 million in fees. That would be a nice swap.

  2. mellowjohn says:

    anyone in illinois who wasn’t afraid of this happening – or (on the other side) hoping for this to happen – wasn’t paying attention.

  3. After all, why go to the trouble and expense of burying those poor dead folk when you can simply toss them in the dumpster?

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