Beginning Monday, Illinois will no longer be able to afford to bury its poor dead, according to NBC Chicago.

Funeral directors were informed in a letter from the Department of Human Services that the state would no longer guarantee payments for pauper burials after Aug. 15, according to the Ward Room blog at NBC Chicago. The decision throws grieving individuals who receive public assistance into a quandary at a time when poor people are already suffering economic hardship.

In the past, the state has reserved about $13 million to help pay for an estimated 12,000 funerals for individuals who relied on public aid. Participating funeral homes were alloted $1,100 for funerals and $552 for the burial.

The 2011 budget, however, accounts for just $1.9 million.

… Funeral directors have been advised to look for money from city or county governments, and to advise families in morgues until funding can be secured.

Source: NBC Chicago.

The economic slowdown should not deny the dead a proper burial, rich or poor. It seems the state ought to be able to find a way to deal with the budget shortfall rather than having poor families bury their loved ones in a numbered grave. 

Read more at NBC Chicago.

In other news: Judge Sentences Ohio Serial Killer to Death.