Protestors chant "Shame On You," directed to politicians during a rally at the Thompson Center Tuesday to demand state legislators to protect funding for human services (Chicago Tribune photo)

Protestors chant "Shame On You," directed to politicians during a rally at the Thompson Center Tuesday to demand state legislators to protect funding for human services (Chicago Tribune photo)

(WGN-AM)- Hundreds gathered at the Thompson Center Monday to protest cuts in social service programs that would happen unless the state finds new revenue.

The protest was attended by several hundred social service providers and their clients. Agencies that serve the poor, the disabled, the homeless, children in need and other populations may see their funding cut by half or more if the cuts go through.

"Our government must protect our most vulnerable citizens, not ignore them," state representative Julie Hamos said at the protest.

But Hamos acknowledged that even with the state income tax increase, plus furlough days, and deferred pension payments, there will still have to be social service cuts because of the economy. She told the crowd that the budget hole is so deep, lawmakers can't cut their way out of it.

United Way's CEO Laura Thrall said charitable donations can't make up the difference if the funds coming from the state are cut by half or more.

"It takes 5.6 billion dollars annually for the state to fund health and human services, and that funding represents a partnership of private philanthropy, our providers and the government," United Way's CEO Laura Thrall said. "If you look at private philanthropy and think that there is any kind of fantasy that we can fill the gap if these cuts come through, it is truly a fantasy."

Legislative leaders are scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss the budget further. The income tax hike is still under discussion.

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