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July 8, 2015 – Chicago Tribune
Rauner to Speaker: Either support reforms or tax hike

http://tinyurl.com/nvjuyqv


Chicago Tribune – July 7, 2015
Judge: No state budget, no full pay for Illinois workers.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-illinois-budget-court-20150707-story.html


July 7, 2015 – Chicago Tribune

State budget gridlock straining Illinois’ safety net

With no plan in sight, nonprofits that care for the needy are ‘very concerned’

By Bonnie Miller Rubin and Kim Geiger Chicago TribuneBudgetGridlock

MICHAEL NOBLE JR./CHICAGO TRIBUNE Clayton Residential Home relies on state funds to care for clients like Jose Centen, from left, Elijah Harrison, Sharon Watkins and Robert Robinson. 

Every year, they sign petitions, call their lawmakers and head to Springfield to fend off spending cuts. And every year, they somehow manage to squeeze the belt a little tighter, step up fundraising and eke out another 12 months of pinched survival.

But when state government began its new financial year last Wednesday with no budget in place, the stakes got even higher for the private, largely nonprofit organizations that operate much of Illinois’ network of social services.

Without a budget, Illinois now lacks the authority to keep checks flowing to the nonprofit groups that deliver services to the poor, elderly and disabled. Meanwhile, the groups also must brace for the possibility that an eventual budget deal might provide far less than what they need to keep afloat.

“This is the worst situation I’ve seen in 22 years,” said Tony Paulauski, executive director of the Arc of Illinois, a statewide organization that supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Paulauski said he’s been fielding calls from organizations “very concerned” about their ability to survive. His own office has had to cut three programs, including one that helps people transition from institutions into less costly community settings.

“I’ve built my career at the Arc, training people on how to advocate for themselves and navigate the system. Now that’s all being ripped apart,” Paulauski said.

The situation is rooted in a broader political battle playing out at the Capitol. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democrats who control the General Assembly have spent recent months talking past each other, with Rauner insistent on passage of a politically charged legislative agenda and Democrats refusing to give it to him. Democratic leaders instead sent the governor a spending plan that was more than $3 billion short of available revenues, which Rauner vetoed days before the new budget year began.

Democrats are now pushing for a temporary budget to keep essential services funded through July, but Rauner opposes the idea.

There’s still time for the situation to be resolved before many organizations have to cut staff or deny services. That’s because state payments are made on a delay, meaning checks for services provided in June should make it to providers in July.

Still, the political gamesmanship has left providers hanging in uncertainty.

“Some providers don’t know whether they’re going to get paid (for services provided after July 1), or if they should go on faith and weather the storm,” said Heather O’Connell, of Thresholds, the state’s largest provider of mental health services. “It’s a horrible situation, and it’s bad business. It’s terribly sad that our political leaders are putting us in this situation. They need to come to together and work this out.”

The budget stalemate coincides with the most high-need time of the year for Alternatives Inc., which provides a range of youth programming citywide, including for Chicago Public Schools.

Executive Director Judy Gall said that her agency had to make a decision to hold summer camp before it knew what would happen with the current showdown between the governor and the legislature.

“We opted to go ahead, but I hope we won’t regret this,” Gall said.

The agency did calculations and will be OK for the short term, she said, “but if the budget doesn’t get settled, we will have to cut programming at the start of the school year.”

The current money drought adds to existing financial troubles for the social safety net, which has been unraveling since long before Rauner arrived on the scene.

Illinois takes in tens of billions of dollars in tax money each year, but much of it must be spent on pension payments and debt service. Local governments are also entitled to a share. After those expenses have been taken off the top, the remainder is what’s left for lawmakers and the governor to decide how to spread around.

Large chunks go to prisons and schools, leaving little room to spend elsewhere without going into the red. That means the departments that fund key social service programs — from subsidized day care to in-home care for the disabled and mental health care — face a yearly fight to maintain their share of state dollars and stave off cuts.

“There’s only so much you can do,” said Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, a top budget negotiator. “They have been taking disproportionate cuts for many years because of the circumstances of our budget.”

State general fund spending on the three main agencies that handle the safety net has hovered around $5 billion for much of the past decade, which critics say is not enough to keep up with inflation.

Currently, Illinois has 22,000 people waiting for help and ranks 47th in funding those services, which can range from housing to medication management and transportation assistance, according to the State of the States, a project of the University of Colorado that tracks public spending for programs to address intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Illinois also ranks third nationwide for number of people living in state institutions, despite the fact that community care is more cost-effective: $53,000 per person annually versus $248,000 per year for institutionalization, according to the Department of Human Services.

Carl LaMell, CEO of Clear-brook, said state support for programs like his Arlington Heights facility, which houses about 340 residents with disabilities, has been steadily chipped away.

“Every year, we’re pawns in this game,” said LaMell, noting that this will be the 10th consecutive year without a rate or cost of living increase.

Whatever happens, Clearbrook will still be in business, but serving fewer people, LaMell said.

“We’ll have to send residents home — if they still have parents who are living or not too old to care for them,” LaMell said. “Otherwise, we’ll have no choice but to send them back to the state. People have placed their sons and daughters with us for peace of mind. And now they’re going to be uprooted? It’s just morally wrong.”

The story is much the same for those struggling with mental illness, said Jessica Lyke, director of Clayton Residential Home on the North Side, which supports more than 200 people who have been discharged from psychiatric hospitals but are not yet stable enough to live on their own.

Clayton’s daily rate is $118 per day, mostly reimbursed from the Social Security and Medicaid benefits of clients. The organization has tightened its belt by cutting supplies and menu offerings. That, along with the ability to tap a line of credit, means it can hang on through the summer. But its biggest expense is payroll, a line item Lyke said she will not touch.

“We are not a luxury item,” Lyke said. “If not here, where will people go? There is no cheaper alternative.” brubin@tribpub.com kgeiger@tribpub.com


07/01/15 – HEARTLAND ALLIANCE POLICY AND ADVOCACY

Illinois Needs a Sustainable Budget Now

How Can You Help?

The Governor and the General Assembly need to work together to come to a responsible budget agreement with the revenue Illinois needs to support the individuals, families, and communities of Illinois.

Today marks the first day of Illinois’s new fiscal year, Fiscal Year 2016. Today, too, Illinois has no FY 16 budget. Without a budget supported by new revenue, state-funded services and certain state operations are in jeopardy. For people experiencing poverty, the loss of services will be devastating, affecting access to jobs, the safety of children, and the security of Illinois families.

Last week, Governor Rauner vetoed a number of budget bills passed in May by the General Assembly. And the General Assembly has yet to pass a revenue solution to address Illinois’s multi-billion dollar shortfall for FY 16. It is time for the General Assembly and the Governor to work together to pass a fair and fully funded budget.

Yesterday, Heartland Alliance joined a coalition of more than 300 nonprofit organizations across Illinois to call on Governor Rauner and the General Assembly to work together to pass just such a budget for FY 16. A letter from the nonprofits—representing a cross-section of education, health, and human services organizations—was hand delivered yesterday to Governor Rauner, Speaker Madigan, President Cullerton, Leader Durkin, and Leader Radogno, along with many other legislative and administrative leaders. The letter highlights the devastating impact budget inaction has and will continue to have on the nonprofits and the children and adults who rely on their programs and support, as well as those services provided directly by the state.

Nonprofit organizations are the backbone of the delivery of state services to families who rely on childcare assistance; individuals with physical, developmental, and/or intellectual disabilities; senior citizens; children and adults with mental illnesses; individuals with HIV; and many more. In addition to the services nonprofits provide on behalf of the state, community-based organizations are significant contributors to the local economy, employing thousands of workers, as well as buying goods and services from other local businesses. With July 1st upon us, our leaders must craft a sustainable budget that meets the needs of the individuals, families, and communities of Illinois. And do it now.

What You Can Do?

Call your State Legislators and the Governor today and tell them to pass a responsible budget that includes new revenue to support the programs and services that make Illinoisans and their communities strong.

Find your state senator or representative’s phone number »

 


6/26/15

From Tony Paulauski, ARC of Illinois & State Journal Register

The entire human service safety net is now at risk. How long can providers hang on without funding from the state? We are on the brink.

The budget talks start all over again. Question will the leaders and the Governor even meet? If they meet is there anything they will be able to agree upon?

One thing I know for sure is that we need new revenue and we need a state budget now!

We have learned that the grants are on “hold” whatever that means except for respite care which took a 10% cut today.

Story from today’s State Journal Register.

Tony

Gov. Rauner vetoes Illinois budget, cites $4 billion deficit

By Doug Finke, State Capitol Bureau
Posted Jun. 25, 2015 at 1:27 PM
Updated at 2:57 PM

 Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the remainder of the state’s operations budget Thursday, saying it was out of balance and unconstitutional.

Rauner took the action a day after approving a bill that provides funding for K-12 education and will allow the state’s public schools to open on schedule.

Rauner previously threatened to veto the spending plan sent to him by the legislature’s Democrats because it is up to $4 billion out of balance.

In an op-ed piece he penned for the Chicago Tribune on Thursday, Rauner said he was sent to Springfield by voters to “end the era of unbalanced budgets and runaway debt.”

“The road back to fiscal sanity starts today with my veto of a budget that is nearly $4 billion out of balance and includes no reform,” Rauner wrote. “Rather than repeating the mistakes of the past — just kicking the can and raising taxes without real reform — now is our chance to transform Illinois to make it more competitive and compassionate.”

Rauner’s action comes just days before the start of the state’s new fiscal year. Without a budget in place on July 1, the state won’t have the authority to spend money on new expenses. However, the state can still make payments on the backlog of bills incurred before July 1.

“It appears that the governor would rather move the state toward a shutdown rather than reasonable compromises that protect the middle class with a balanced approach to budgeting,” said Rikeesha Phelon, spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago. “The Senate President will take some time to discuss all options and next steps with his caucus.”

Among those options would be an attempt to override Rauner’s vetoes. It would take 71 votes in the House and 36 in the Senate to override Rauner’s budget vetoes. Democrats hold 71 seats in the House and 39 in the Senate.

A spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, did not promptly respond to a request for comment.

 


6/19/15

From The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability via Tony Paulauski – Arc of Illinois

Ralph Martire: Not much love for the middle class in Illinois

Apparently, there’s a new battleground for Illinois politicos: the middle class.For whatever reason — I’m guessing polling data, but maybe that’s cynical — the state’s Democrats and Republicans both claim they’re pursuing an agenda to build a prospering middle class. This is a welcome development. After all, middle-class families, as well as low-income workers who aspire to become middle class, have seen their real incomes decline over the last 30 years, making it difficult to maintain their standard of living, much less improve it.So what would it take for decision makers to make good on their desire to support the middle class? At the state level, the answer is clear: invest adequately in core public goods and services. For instance, enhancing infrastructure and providing every child a high-quality public education effectively creates jobs for middle-income workers while helping their kids become college and career ready.Meanwhile, funding services for vulnerable members of society, such as the elderly or individuals with mental health and developmental disability concerns, enables middle-class folks to access needed support that’s otherwise too costly for their budgets.The catch is that making adequate investments in core services is only possible when the state has sufficient revenue to do so. If the recent bipartisan concern for the middle class is sincere, the first order of business is increasing state taxes enough to at least replace the $4.7 billion in annual, recurring revenue the general fund lost when personal and corporate income tax rates were cut Jan. 1.Wait a minute, you might say, didn’t those tax cuts help the middle class? Well, no. In fact, quite the opposite. Here’s why.First and foremost, neither middle-class families nor the small businesses they own benefited materially from those cuts. Indeed, when Illinois’ personal income tax rate dropped from 5 percent to 3.75 percent, it created a tax cut (and concomitant revenue loss) of some $3.7 billion. However, the bottom 60 percent of Illinois taxpayers — in other words, the middle class and below — received just $479 million, or 13 percent, of that huge tax break.Meanwhile, well over $2 billion, or more than 54 percent, of that tax break went to the wealthiest 11 percent, who, to be clear, are better off than middle class. Millionaires fared particularly well, receiving an average tax break of almost $37,000 annually, which is more than the total annual taxable income for everyone in the bottom 60 percent.As for the $1 billion in annual corporate tax breaks, it sure isn’t going to mom-and-pop shops owned by middle-class families. Indeed, small businesses specifically and the vast majority of businesses in Illinois generally — around 70 percent— pay nothing in state corporate income taxes annually. It’s only those very large companies (collectively less than 9 percent of all Illinois businesses) that get the lion’s share of this tax break.The kicker: despite not really benefiting from this tax cut, middle-class folks will pay for it. That’s because the services Gov. Bruce Rauner proposes cutting to pay for this tax break — child care, mental health, community care for seniors, health care services and more — primarily are consumed by either middle-income families or folks trying to become middle income.

Even the governor’s proposed higher-education cuts create greater hardship for middle-income families than for their more affluent counterparts, because it will be far more difficult for folks in the middle to pay the inevitable tuition hikes these cuts will foment.

The bottom line is clear. To promote a growing, prosperous middle class, Illinois needs the fiscal capacity to fund core services that both create opportunity and help cover costs that generally outstrip the budgets of middle-class families — capacity Illinois simply doesn’t have after losing $4.7 billion in revenue to a tax cut that harms, rather than helps, the middle class.

— Ralph Martire is executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, a bipartisan fiscal-policy think tank in Chicago. Email him at rmartire@ctbaonline.org.

http://www.sj-r.com/article/20150617/OPINION/150619535


 

From The Illinois Observer via Tony Paulauski – Arc of Illinois

4/22/15

Cullerton, Rauner Strike Deal to Rescind FY15 Cuts
Steans: Plan to Sweep $26 Million Has Bipartisan Support

EXTRA… A deal was struck on Tuesday between Senate President John Cullerton and the Rauner Administration to restore the $26 million cut from the FY 2015 budget on Good Friday by the governor.

Late on Tuesday afternoon a top Senate Democratic lawmaker alerted The Insider to the newly minted deal which was confirmed later in the evening by Appropriations Committee chair State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago).

According to Steans, the bi-partisan agreement was reached in negotiations between senators and Budget Director Tim Nuding and involves additional fund sweeps totaling $26 million in order to fully restore funding to programs cut by Rauner on April 3.

Steans says that the additional money to be swept does not touch any cash from the Road Fund, which lost nearly $500 million in the March sweeps.

Additionally, Steans says that she expects a bill implementing the accord to win nearly unanimous support in the Senate on Wednesday.

Despite the Senate agreement, House Speaker Michael Madigan is unwilling to go along.

“We’re not signing on to the Senate agreement,” Madigan spokesman Steve Brown told The Insider. “We believe that there is already sufficient money in the budget, which Nuding acknowledged at today’s hearing.”

A special budget committee formed last week by Madigan held a hearing in Springfield today to seek clarification from Administration officials on the Good Friday cuts.

The early maneuvering between the new GOP governor and the Democratic leaders showed Cullerton more willing to be confrontational with Rauner while Madigan repeatedly stressed his desire to work “professionally and cooperatively” with the state’s new chief executive.

Many insiders have been speculating that the governor and the powerful House speaker would be cutting deals at the expense of the Senate president.

The original FY 2015 fix, sweeping $1.3 billion and imposing 2.25% cuts of $300 million across the board, including education, to fill a $1.6 billion hole was Madigan’s brainchild, which a represented a compromise for Rauner who had sought $1.6 billion in sweeps and no cuts to education.

And earlier today news broke that Rauner and Madigan had reached an agreement to privatize the state’s economic development programs while shifting governing authority over the Lincoln Museum away from the Historical Preservation Agency, a pet Madigan project.

But Rauner’s deal with Cullerton reveals the governor’s willingness to maneuver between the legislature’s top Democrats and, perhaps, to exploit occasional tensions that exist between the two chambers.

Additionally, and most important, it reveals Rauner’s ability to negotiate the kind of deals with Democrats that his immediate predecessor never could. Whether the governor can nudge the two Democrats onto the same page over the FY15 budget, well, that remains to be seen.

Stay tuned.


 

Responsible Budget Coalition rejects accepting Rauner’s budget cuts 

By Liyuan Yang | Staff writer |

After Gov. Bruce Rauner suspended $26 million from the funding of 22 human services departments in April, the Responsible Budget Coalition united to spread public awareness about the impact of Rauner’s decision and fight for revenue to invest human services.

According to a press release, the Responsible Budget Coalition is comprised of a group of 200 organizations who are involved with families, children, veterans, people with disabilities, education, labor union and religious and civic institutions.

Catherine Kelly, Rauner’s press secretary, said in an email that the purpose of the reduction is to fix the $1.6 billion budget hole created by former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn.

“Part of the solution to solving the inherited $1.6 billion budget hole without raising taxes or increasing borrowing is to continue to evaluate the current fiscal year’s budget,” Kelly said.
Immigrant Integration Services is one of the 22 service departments being affected by the suspension, said Breandan Magee, senior director of programs at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrants and Refugee Rights. Immigrant Integration Services, which will lose $3.4 million due to the suspension, is responsible for funding 60 immigrant service agencies that provide naturalization services and citizenship opportunities.

“The immigrant services in Illinois are in great jeopardy,” Magee said. “We are not accepting the fact that immigrant services are considered nonessential by the governor and we will continue to let the governor and the legislator know that immigrants and refugees are essential in Illinois.”

Teen REACH, a state-wide after school program for children ages six to 17, will also be affected by Rauner’s proposal, said Andrea Durbin, chief executive officer of the Illinois Collaboration on Youth. Durbin said the program helps students with their homework, engages them in physical activities, provides social support and offers a safe environment.
“It’s a really important way to help keep kids safe, give well income working parents (the chance to keep) their kids safe, and then really help to improve the academic achievements and the attendance at school,” Durbin said.

Durbin said the children who relied on the program have nowhere else to go after school.
After the funds were suspended, the program was shut down, Durbin said, and the students are no longer receiving the benefits of the after-school program, while the staff in charge of the program also lost their jobs.

“I’m very concerned about the safety of family and children as well the community across the state of Illinois,” Durbin said. “And I’m very concerned with the social safety net that supports them.”

David Lloyd, the director of the fiscal policy center at Voices for Illinois Children, said these cuts will also restrict access to the Early Intervention Program, which serves infants and toddlers with developmental delays.

Lloyd said Voices for Illinois Children works with children to help them grow. Without it, these children will have to resort to special education services in public schools, which are more costly.

“So, in the short term the cuts might save money, but it will cost much more in the long run because the state didn’t help kids early on,” Lloyd said.

lyang51@dailyillini.com


(Chicago) – Senate Democrats have slated a hearing to grill Rauner Administration officials over $26 million in budget cuts made on Good Friday.

State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) has scheduled an appropriations committee hearing for next Tuesday in Chicago to question Governor Bruce Rauner’s budget officials over their decision to suspend Fiscal Year 2015 contracts of multiple human service and public health providers under the cover of Good Friday, contracts that included money to bury deceased public aid recipients, autism care, immigrant integration services, youth drug abuse prevention, epilepsy services, etc.

The governor’s decision sparked a protest rally at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago on Wednesday that drew hundreds of protesters and that was also attended by lawmakers, such as House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie) and State Senator Iris Martinez (D-Chicago).

“What the Governor did, as the clock ran out on the Friday before a holiday weekend, is not just a slap in the face to the immigrant community after he stood with us earlier this year and told us how important we are to Illinois,” said Lawrence Benito, CEO of Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. “It’s an affront to the millions of Illinoisans who rely on these investments in order to pursue self-sufficiency.”

Rauner, who attended immigration rights group’s January 31 summit and pledged his “commitment” to immigrant leaders, suspended $3.4 million for state immigration services.

Lang also criticized Rauner saying that lawmakers feel “deceived” by the governor’s actions.

“Governor Rauner’s failure to be transparent with lawmakers on his planned budget cuts after we had a deal has now bred mistrust,” said Lang. “Requests for budget details have been ignored, and the governor’s decision to sneak out budget cuts over the cover of Passover and Easter has left legislators and providers feeling deceived.”

A Rauner GOP legislative ally also expressed “surprise” at the governor’s budget cuts, thinking that the recent FY 2015 budget fix by lawmakers that had swept $1.3 billion from special state funds and that had cut 2.25% across the board blunted the need for further budget cuts.

“I was under the impression that action would stabilize things through the end of the fiscal year,” said State Rep. Dan Brady (R-Bloomington). “I was not anticipating having this type of situation. I’m confused over it. I’m confused and surprised.”

The governor started on Monday a week-long, statewide tour of 17 Illinois counties to promote his “turnaround agenda”, but the controversy over the Good Friday cuts overshadowed the start of the governor’s campaign-style trip, prompting him to backtrack a bit on the contract suspensions and saying that some suspensions could be reversed within “days”.

Meanwhile, Steans has also been on a statewide tour holding committee hearings on Rauner’s proposed Fiscal Year 2016 budget cuts, taking testimony from both mayors, university officials, and human service providers on the potential impact of the governor’s plan to cut $6 billion from next year’s budget, reducing the state’s annual expenditures from $38 billion to $32 billion.

Steans’ Tuesday hearing will be held in Bilandic Building in Chicago and begins at 11:00 a.m.


FROM: Roberta Lynch, Executive Director – Council 31 AFSCME

RE: Budget Crisis and Care Campaign – Action Needed

Like you, I am very concerned about what may happen to services for individuals with developmental disabilities given our current budget crisis.  The cuts proposed in the FY 16 budget make it difficult to focus on the need for increasing wages for DSPs.  But as we hear from many agency heads, the improving economy is making it difficult to fill DSP positions at current wages. That fact and minimum wage increases like the one in Chicago make focusing on DSP wages vital.

We are asking AFSCME members to contact lawmakers to oppose cuts to services for individuals with developmental disabilities, support raising new revenues needed to balance the budget, and advocate for an increase in DSP wages.  We have also suggested that, where feasible, our local union officers visit lawmakers in their district offices or invite them to visit the agency.  We have encouraged them to reach out and work with you and your management team to make this grassroots lobbying effort as effective as possible.

We would appreciate your cooperation in this endeavor.


Thanks to Tony Paulauski of The Arc of Illinois

On Friday many Human Services Advocates were surprised to find an email in their inboxes entitled SUSPENDED. The Dept. of Human Services suspended 23 grants and advocates were informed that they were to cease spending immediately. No two week notice to inform families of their options. No two week notice to give staff a layoff notice. Stop spending immediately was the dictate.The Autism Program (TAP), the largest autism network in the United States, was suspended.The Arc Life Span Program unique in the United States as an advocacy and leadership resource for individuals and families, was suspended after 14 years of service.One of my fears is that people will return to work today after a holiday break only to learn their services have been slashed or they are out of work.At this point only the 23 grants have been suspended, but additional suspensions are possible and it is my understanding the 2.5% cuts may come into play.I will seek further clarifications today, but Friday was a sad day here in Illinois. We had all believed that the Legislative Leaders had agreed upon a budget for the remainder of this fiscal year that the Governor had signed into law.A very sad day indeed.I would urge you to call your legislators and the Governor expressing your outrage about the elimination of important human services including the cuts to services such as the Life Span Program, The Autism Program and others.

Office of the Governor
Phone: 312-814-2121

Click here to find your legislators


Rockford REX News story below. Looks like some of the numbers are incorrect

Governor’s office releases list breaking down $26M in grant suspensions

A number of state and local organizations have been told to stop spending any further grant money by Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Rauner’s office has released an updated list of programs affected, now including the amount of grant funding that’s been suspended for each.

A total of 23 grant­funded organizations serving Illinois received a letter on Friday from the Department of Human Services telling them to “immediately cease incurring additional obligations, costs or spending any further grant funds until further notice.”

This means that any services already paid for by the groups can move forward, but if there are funds remaining in the accounts after the services have been paid for, that money will be returned to the state.

Roughly $26 million total has been suspended between the Department of Human Services and Department of Public Health for Fiscal Year 2015.

DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES

— Funeral & Burial, $6.9 million
— Immigrant Integration Services, $3.4 million
— Welcoming Centers, $191,300
— ARC Lifespan, $472,100
— Best Buddies, $250,000
— Autism, $4.3 million
— Group Home Loans, $20,000
— Compulsive Gambling, $406,000
— Westside Health, $94,200
— Addiction Prevention, $1.6 million
— Assistance for Homeless, $300,000
— Community Services, $2 million
— Teen REACH, $3.1 million
— Coalition F/Tech Assist­Child, $250,000
— For Children’s Health Program, $231,600
— Outreach to Individuals to Engage in Services, $380,700
— Regions Special Consumer Support, $277,700
— SMRF Training, $420,100
— Transportation, $43,900
— DD Latino Outreach, $87,500
— Microboard Development and Outreach, $47,500
— Epilepsy, $514,700

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH

— Brothers and Sisters United Against HIV/AIDS, $789,800

— Increasing Access to Health Care­Wellness on Wheels, $180,000
— Wellness on Wheels ­ Mobile Administration 2015, $135,000
— Illinois Tobacco Quitline, $3.1 million
— Project Safe Sleep Education and Outreach, $250,000
— MidAmerica Regional Public Health Leadership Institute, $75,000

The governor’s office sent a response to 13 News saying “part of the solution to solving the inherited $1.6 billion budget hole without raising taxes or increasing borrowing is to continue to evaluate the current fiscal year’s budget. The governor’s office worked with agencies to see which grants could be suspended without impacting essential services.”

There are a number of local programs that are impacted by the cuts including The Epilepsy Foundation of North Central Illinois and The Autism Program of Illinois.

The Epilepsy Foundation of North/Central Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska responded by saying:
“The suspension of grant funding for epilepsy, autism, developmental disabilities, and mental health programs is devastating to the individuals that rely on these services to receive effective medical treatment and care. These programs are designed to keep individuals out of the emergency room, employed, in school, and save the state millions of dollars in healthcare and disability costs.

Elimination of these programs will only put individuals out of work, increase costs to state run medical care programs, and endanger the lives and well­being of hundreds of thousands Illinoisans living with developmental disabilities and mental health issues.”

The Autism Program of Illinois responded by saying: “We are shocked and saddened by the decision of the Governor and the Department of Human Services to eliminate TAP funding for the current fiscal year, particularly when a budget agreement was passed by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor. The four universities and 13 nonprofit organizations in the TAP network provide critically needed services for Illinois families which are often available from no other source. The TAP network has brought more than $34 million in non­state grants into our state and helps the state save money when compared to more expensive services later in life.”


Advocates say Illinois must stop ‘warehousing’ disabled
By Mark Fitton Illinois News Network

SPRINGFIELD — A coalition of advocates for the developmentally disabled is calling for the eventual closure of six of seven of the state’s residential centers.

The Going Home coalition is not proposing legislation this session and it’s not saying which of the existing centers should remain open.

Illinois’ seven centers for the developmentally disabled are Choate Mental Health & Developmental Center in Anna, and centers in Centralia, Dwight, Dixon, Kankakee, Park Forest and Waukegan.

Since 2001, the state has closed centers in Lincoln, Tinley Park and Jacksonville.

The seven remaining Illinois centers employ a total of roughly 3,600 people, most of them represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which has opposed facility closures in the past. An AFSCME Council 31 spokesman declined to comment for this story.

The coalition’s proposal is not without opponents and, in fact, reveals a divide in the community of developmentally disabled people and their families.

Going Home says community-based care can provide a better quality of living for the 1,730 people now in state-operated centers.

And, it says, community caregivers can do the job not only better, but cheaper.

The coalition says Illinois is spending about $429 million annually to serve state center residents. It says community-based caregivers can do that job equally well or better for about $92 million per year.

“Illinois is facing a major budget crisis. This is a unique opportunity to save the state significant money,” said Cheryl Jansen, legislative director of Equip for Equality, one of the coalition members.

Further, the coalition says, Illinois is following an antiquated care or service model that warehouses individuals.

It cites Illinois’s status as the state with the third-most people in residential care, behind only New York and Texas.

At the same time, the coalition says, Illinois ranks 47th in the country when it comes to providing funding for community living for the developmentally disabled.

“They may have said they want to close six, but they want to close all of them,” said Rita Burke, president of Illinois League of Advocates for the Developmentally Disabled, or IL-ADD.

Burke, the parent of an adult resident of Choate Mental Health Center in Anna, said her organization doesn’t agree that every resident of the state’s centers can survive, let alone thrive, outside the centers.

Her group includes many officers of the parents associations of the seven remaining state centers, and those parents groups do not support mass or sudden closures.

She argues the cost savings cited by Going Home is vastly oversimplified and does not adequately address care for individuals with extraordinary medical needs.

And considering Illinois is ranked 47th in the state in terms of support for community-based care, what makes anyone think it will suddenly be ready to transfer 1,700 people to community care, she asked.

Tony Paulauski, executive director of The Arc of Illinois, said Illinois is still warehousing the developmentally disabled and must transition to community-based care.

Fourteen states currently have no state centers and 35 states have 500 or fewer people living in state-operated centers, he said.

State Rep. Charles Meier, R-Okawville, is a passionate defender of the Murray Center in Centralia, which the Quinn administration tried to close.

For now, at least, the Murray Center remains open.

But he says some of the initial transfers out were badly handled and, in fact, put people in settings that met their needs far less successfully than the state center did.

“People have the right to decide where they want to live, “ he said, and many state residents— and their parents or guardians — believe they have do have good lives and wish to remain in the state centers.

He says rushing to close centers is a poor idea, and the state will “certainly need more than one,” given both the state’s physical size and its population.

Meier and many parents point to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead vs. L.C., saying they say the residents of the state centers have a right to choose to remain where they are.

In that case, two residents of a Georgia state facility sued to prevent being inappropriately treated and housed in the institutional setting.

The court ruled that individuals are entitled to treatment in the most integrated setting possible as determined on case-by-case basis, and it said that in some cases that might include institutions. The court held transfers must meet three criteria:

• The new setting is appropriate according to state treatment professionals.

• The new setting is not opposed by the resident and is less restrictive than the state institution.

• The transfer can be reasonably accommodated given the resources of the state.

The court also said there is no federal requirement that community-based treatment be imposed.

Illinois News Network reporter Greg Bishop contributed to this story.

The Illinois News Network is a reporting service that shines a light on public policies that affect the residents of Illinois. It is a project of the Illinois Policy Institute.


Cullerton calls Rauner’s proposed budget ‘unworkable

By Sara Burnett 150310
The Associated Press
http://www.sj-r.com/article/20150309/NEWS/150309458/1999/NEWS#sthash.IqgmgIeb.dpuf

CHICAGO — The Democratic leader of the Illinois Senate on Monday called Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed state budget “as unworkable as it is unconscionable,” suggesting the Republican try again to draft a balanced spending plan that doesn’t disproportionately hurt people who are struggling to get ahead.

Senate President John Cullerton also said he and Rauner remain far from finding a way to fund state programs that already are running out of money, despite the governor’s repeated assurances that a deal is “days away.”

“I’m not looking to start a fight with our new governor. I want to work with him,” Cullerton said during a speech in his hometown of Chicago. “But I don’t work for him, and his budget doesn’t work for Illinois.”

Cullerton’s comments were another clear indication of how difficult it will be for Rauner and the Democrat-controlled legislature to find common ground on two budget fronts, with the two sides even disagreeing over whether negotiations have taken place at all.

Cullerton complained Rauner hasn’t invited him and other legislative leaders to sit down and discuss the issue, while Rauner spokesman Lance Trover said Cullerton has met repeatedly with the governor and has had “every opportunity” to discuss any topic he wants.

“It’s unclear why President Cullerton seems intent on undermining a bipartisan agreement to clean up the fiscal mess that Senate Democrats created,” Trover said.

The current fiscal year’s budget is short about $1.6 billion, due to Democrats approving a spending plan prior to the November election that didn’t include enough money to cover expenses. They had hoped to return after the election to pass an extension of a temporary income tax increase that was scheduled to roll back on Jan. 1, but Rauner’s win over Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn put that plan on hold.

Rauner has repeatedly said that raising taxes isn’t the answer and will hurt economic growth. He says the state must first fix “structural issues,” such as too much government bureaucracy and a too-cozy relationship between unions and legislators.

He wants legislators to give him broad authority to move money from special state funds to plug the hole in this year’s budget, but Senate Democrats have been reluctant to do so.

Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, said the Chicago Democrat believes it will be easier to get House approval for a spending fix if Rauner lays out where he would cut and which funds he would take money from to make up for shortages. Among the programs that already have run out of money is one that subsidizes day care for low-income residents.

Rauner’s proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 — when Illinois faces a more than $6 billion shortfall — would cut more than $1 billion from Medicaid, slash in half the amount of tax revenue the state directs to municipalities, and reduce funding on everything from higher education to public transportation.

– See more at: http://www.sj-r.com/article/20150309/NEWS/150309458/1999/NEWS#sthash.IqgmgIeb.dpuf


Short­term budget fix on hold
Rauner contends that spending deal is imminent; top Democrats say otherwise

By Kim Geiger Tribune reporter – 3/2/2015

More than a week after Gov. Bruce Rauner declared he was “literally days away” from a solution to the $1.6 billion shortfall in this year’s budget, the governor insisted Friday that he and Democrats are “very close” to a deal.

“We’ll get it done,” Rauner said after delivering a speech to business leaders in Chicago. “The critical thing … is that we don’t raise taxes because of this and that we don’t do borrowing because of this, we just reallocate.”

By that, Rauner means he wants to take money from some programs to pay for others on the verge of going broke. But doing so requires cooperation from Democrats, some of whom say the Republican governor hasn’t done enough to persuade them to get behind his plan.

A key sticking point is what Democrats describe as a lack of specifics.

“We still need more information,” said Rikeesha Phelon, spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton, D ­ Chicago. “There certainly have been conversations, but we’re still trying to mine out relevant information.”

Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, said the governor has yet to offer up legislation to spell out which programs he plans to raid or cut to solve the shortfall.

“I think the easiest thing to do is for the governor to be specific,” Brown said. “We haven’t seen a full bill.”

Rauner insisted all week that negotiations were progressing and a deal was “close.” It’s a familiar refrain from the rookie governor, who as a candidate had a habit of batting back reporters’ questions about when he would offer specific proposals with promises of answers “soon” and “in due time.”

Timing for the deal was better before last week’s budget address, when Rauner laid out his agenda for sweeping cuts to programs favored by Democrats, Phelon said.

It was during that speech that Rauner said a deal on the current budget crisis was imminent. Madigan agreed at the time.

Negotiations appear to have stalled.

“Once (Democrats) got a picture of how he intends to manage and how he intends to prioritize, that just made it harder for them to grant him a blank check or to grant him expanded authority to do the same thing in this current year,” Phelon said.

A partial rollback of the temporary tax hike meant a projected drop of $4 billion in revenue that could have helped cover the shortfall, which threatens to cut off payroll for prison guards and court reporters, as well as funding for other programs.

Already, state funding for a popular subsidized day care program has run out. Without more money, the options are to cut program spending, move money around between programs, or borrow.

On Friday, Rauner suggested that Democrats were trying “to take advantage of the cash flow crisis to try to force a tax hike.”


Vendors react to Quinn’s minimum wage action

January 16, 2015 1:36 pm  •  Kurt Erickson Times Bureau

SPRINGFIELD — Although Gov. Bruce Rauner may try to reverse it, a last-minute maneuver by former Gov. Pat Quinn to boost the minimum wage could have wide-ranging effects across the state.

UPDATE: Governor Rauner announced late Friday that he has rescinded this and many other recent Quinn executive orders.

In the final minutes before he left office Monday, Quinn issued an executive order requiring a $10-an-hour minimum wage for all vendors and state contractors.

That could mean everyone from a dishwasher at one of the state’s privately operated park lodges to a teenager hired to staff the canoe rental booth at a state park could see a raise from the current minimum wage of $8.25 an hour.

It also could mean raises for entry-level workers who provide assistance to the elderly and disabled through various nonprofit organizations that are paid by the state.

At the ARC of Illinois, which represents a coalition of organizations serving developmentally disabled residents, the higher wage could be a mixed blessing, Executive Director Tony Paulauski said.

On one hand, it could help lure new workers in a competitive labor pool. By contrast, it will cost the groups more to do business, he said.

That’s why Paulauski and others are working with lawmakers to try to boost the reimbursement rates organization receive from the state to offset the higher wage.

Don Moss, executive director of United Cerebral Palsy of Illinois, said the higher costs could be a final straw for some vendors.

“To impose this added financial burden without increasing the rates would be a severe blow to the system,” Moss said.

Mary McGlauchlen, associate director of Central Illinois Service Access, said some of the providers could face serious financial hardship.

“For some of them, it could put them out of business,” she said Friday.

Quinn’s action came after he failed to convince the Illinois House to join with the Senate to raise the minimum wage for all state residents, even after Illinois voters approved an advisory referendum in November calling for an increase in the minimum wage.

Quinn’s move mirrored one by President Barack Obama, who took executive action to boost the minimum wage for federal contractors.

The governor’s action affects only pending or new contracts with vendors.

Republican Bruce Rauner, who took over as governor on Monday, said he is considering rescinding his Democratic counterpart’s move, which was among a flurry of 11th-hour actions Quinn took before his term ended.

“My bias is to take action to undue pretty much everything that Governor Quinn did since the election,” Rauner told reporters earlier this week. “Every time we look, most of it’s bad.”

Rauner offered no timetable for a decision.

“We’ll deal with that in due course,” Rauner said.


Thanks to Tony Paulauski of The Arc of Illinois – from the Southtown Star

Kadner: The costs of a ‘shared sacrifice’
Updated: January 16, 2015 2:10AM

Cutting the fat out of the state budget is likely to mean cutting programs that help the homeless, battered women and the developmentally disabled.

When Gov. Bruce Rauner talked about freezing nonessential state spending in his inaugural address, the people heading social service agencies across the state understood that likely meant that their budgets are going to take a hit.

“We’ve been concerned since Jan. 1 since the (state) income tax increase rollback,” said Julie Dworkin, director of policy for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

One program likely to lose funding is homeless youth prevention, Dworkin said, which is not mandated by state law or court order.

The state provides millions of dollars for emergency shelters and transitional housing for children, allowing them to remain in school, keep their jobs or seek employment from a stable environment. Dworkin said her agency provides assistance for about 2,500 homeless youths in the Chicago area.

A study by the coalition last year revealed that there were 22,144 homeless students in the Chicago Public Schools, an increase of 18.6 percent over 2012. Of that number, 98 percent were minority children, and 20 percent were diagnosed with disabilities or developmental delays.

Tony Paulauski, executive director of The Arc of Illinois, which advocates on behalf of thousands of disabled people and families in Illinois, said budget cuts could have an impact on group homes and community services for the disabled, as well as respite care for the families of the disabled.

“By respite care, we’re talking about workers who come to a home a few hours a day so that the primary caregiver of a severely disabled adult or child can go to the grocery store and buy food or just take a break from caring for a family member,” Paulauski said.

“That’s not a state mandate. But it is an essential program to allow people to continue caring for family members in their homes, which is far less expensive than putting them in a state institution or nursing home,” he said. “Of course, we’re concerned about any freeze on spending because of the state about to lose billions of dollars in revenue due to the income tax rollback.

“Many of our service providers are going to either lay people off or go out of business if the state cuts spending to them. This is going to result in a cut of the safety net for people who are trying their best to help disabled family members.”

Thresholds, a private service provider that assists more than 7,000 severely mentally ill people in Cook, McHenry and Kankakee counties, is another agency sweating out Rauner’s budget decisions.

“(Illinois House) Speaker Michael Madigan has projected a $5.7 billion revenue shortfall in fiscal 2016 if the income tax increase is not restored or other revenue created,” said Heather O’Donnell, vice president of public policy and advocacy for Thresholds. “We already suffered a funding cut for mental health of $117 million between fiscal years 2009 and 2013.”

She said it costs the state $10,243 a year to provide community-based care to a seriously mentally ill person as opposed to $31,400 in a nursing home or $69,359 at the Cook County Jail.

“And that’s where people end up when you cut funding to community-based mental health programs,” O’Donnell said. “They end up in jail. They end up homeless. They end up in nursing homes. They end up cycling repeatedly through hospitals, costing the state millions of dollars more than it would have cost to provide community-based treatment.

“With treatment and counseling,we know these people are capable of leading productive normal lives,” she said. “… So our hope is that Gov. Rauner will … find a way of increasing the state’s revenue, either by restoring the income tax increase or through some other method.

“The state doesn’t have enough money to adequately fund social service agencies right now. And people should remember that we’re businesses, not-for-profit businesses but businesses, that provide employment to people. We are not some bloated agency of the state.”

Vickie Smith, executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said organizations that operate battered women’s shelters throughout the state are also anxiously awaiting word on what a budget freeze would mean to them.

“As you can imagine, the cuts could be pretty devastating to our members,” Smith said, referring to 52 domestic violence shelters in Illinois. “It’s been in the news about the potential loss of funds, but we don’t know what to expect.

“It’s not just about the shelters but social service providers that work with us to offer assistance in housing, counseling, substance abuse programs, which are all interconnected when it come to domestic violence.”

Each of the organizations I’ve mentioned is busy lobbying local legislators to retain their funding, but each knows that will likely be impossible unless the state income tax increase is restored.

There’s simply no other source of revenue that could generate the roughly $4 billion a year the higher income tax provided.

And officials of several organizations noted that the state is going to run out of money in its current budget before the new fiscal year begins in June.

I know why people voted for Rauner and reform. They’re tired of corruption and wasteful spending by state government.

But it’s not the fat-cat politicians and their buddies that are likely to take the hit.

It’s abused women and children, the mentally ill, the physically disabled and the homeless.

And these people are not just going to vanish.

There will be a cost if funds for these programs are further cut, both in cash and human lives.

Rauner talked in his inaugural speech about a shared sacrifice. But you know who is really going to feel the pain.

News From The Arc of Illinois

Minimum wage, from the Care Campaign, Senator Hunter Wednesday, filed Senate Bill 12 which “provides that when recalculating rate and reimbursement methodologies, the Departments shall account for (i) mandated increases in the State minimum wage rate; and (ii) any increased payroll taxes required of providers or vendors contracting with the Departments. Provides that the Departments must fully fund recalculated rate and reimbursement methodologies.”

You are going to want your Senators to become Co-Sponsors of Senate Bill 12.

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Learn about The Care Campaign in this radio interview with
Trinity Services CEO, Art Dykstra. Courtesy  WMAY Radio

Read the Care Campaign Editorial in the State Journal Register

In the News WAND TV ~ WAND TV2 ~ WRSP TV ~ Press Conference Photos

Governor Quinn got the message as we delivered and mailed
over 18,000 Care Campaign Cards to his office!

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Welcome to The Care Campaign, a coalition of service providers, direct support workers and their unions, associations and individuals formed in January 2013 to raise wages of direct care workers in Illinois.

We hope you’ll join us to help win a living wage for the dedicated people who support those with developmental disabilities. This is important quality of life work performed by women and men who work hard caring for some of the most vulnerable of our fellow citizens.

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How you can help:

Why The Care Campaign?
The Care Campaign is a historic coming together of providers, associations, workers and their unions, parents, administrators, caregivers, people with disabilities, and other Illinois citizens. Never before have so many concerned groups and individuals come together around this important issue. We are concerned and we are committed to making a difference for the thousands of direct service professionals in Illinois who tirelessly work to care for our fellow citizens with developmental and other disabilities.

FB-LittleCityIn Illinois there are some 24,000 individuals with developmental disabilities supported in community settings. The problem is that many of the direct support employees who provide that support don’t earn enough to even support their own families. We don’t believe that it is right to pay so little for people who give so much.

Direct support workers in Illinois earn wages below the poverty level.
A recent IARF (Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities) salary survey pegged the average direct support wage in Illinois at $9.35 per hour. That’s 21% below the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services poverty threshold of $11.32 for a family of four. This largely female workforce is often forced to work many overtime hours or even hold down a second job just to make ends meet. Many of these workers and their families have to fall back on public benefits such as Medicaid and food stamps, creating additional expenditures for state government. See the Arc of Illinois Position Paper on (DSPs) Direct Support Professionals

No Cost of Doing Business Increase for community providers since 2007.
Low wages are a consequence of the historically low reimbursement rates for community services. According to the State of the States in Developmental Disabilities report, Illinois ranks 41st of 50 in fiscal effort for these services. The General Assembly has not awarded a Cost of Doing Business Increase to community developmental disability agencies since 2007. Over the last 10 fiscal years, increases in state funding to these agencies have averaged less than 1% per year, for a total of 9.5%. By contrast, the CPI (Consumer Price Index) increased 23% over the same period. Community agencies were forced to cover increases in health insurance, fuel, and other costs from the small rate increases, while wages fell even further behind.

Low pay drives high staff turnover.
The lack of adequate wages for employees who perform the challenging work of supporting individuals with disabilities results in high employee turnover, which in turn, negatively impacts the quality of services provided. In 2008, the ARC of the United States documented annual turnover rates among direct support staff of 35% to 70%. According to a 2007 study, the national turnover rate averages 50% (Hewitt and Larson, 2007). Higher wages are proven to reduce staff turnover, improving stability and quality of services while reducing employer training costs.
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The Care Campaign solution.
The Care Campaign proposes increases in reimbursement rates linked directly to increases in direct support staff wages. The goal is to increase those wages to $13 at minimum. To achieve this goal, The Care Campaign supports Senate Bill 2604, sponsored by Senators Heather Steans and Mattie Hunter, Daniel Biss, Julie Morrison and House Bill 3698, sponsored by Representatives Robyn GabelLawrence M. Walsh, Jr., Emanuel Chris Welch, and Laura Fine.

This goal is a modest increase for an individual worker but significant for retaining a quality workforce to serve those with disabilities, helping to reduce turnover and providing a more consistent and supportive environment for those we serve. It will reduce reliance on public benefits such as food stamps and Medicaid while enhancing dignity and self-worth for the thousands who annually go over and above every day of the year to provide exceptional personal services to make life better for people with developmental disabilities.

You can help by signing the petition and spreading the word by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter. Stand with The Care Campaign to show that the citizens of Illinois care about those with disabilities and want a living wage for those who daily work to make life better for them.