I did make a mistake listing Senator Syverson as supporting the closure of Murray. He voted no not to close Murray. Sorry Rockford! The vote was correct 7 to 3 against closure.
If you legislator voted yes, send them an email, note or call their office thanking them for their vote and supporting community for everyone. Those include:
Senator Schonberger Yes
Senator Trotter Yes
Rep Nekritz Yes
If your legislator voted no, send them an email, note or call their office expressing your disappointment in their vote by continuing to support institutions here in Illinois. Those include:
Senator Syverson No
Senator Schmidt No
Senator Murphy No
Senator Frerichs No
Rep Bellock No
Rep Poe No
Rep Riley No
Rep Tryon No
Here is a story on the COGFA vote from one of the local papers in the Centralia area.
Commission votes in favor of keeping Murray Center and Tamms open
BY BRIAN BRUEGGEMANN – News-Democrat
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability voted 7-3 Tuesday morning to recommend keeping open the Warren G. Murray Developmental Center in Centralia.
But the vote is advisory and Gov. Pat Quinn will make the final decision.
The commission issued the non-binding recommendation during its meeting on the proposed closure of Murray Center and a handful of other state facilities, including Tamms Correctional Center.
The motion to close Tamms and Murray failed 7-3.
In a surprise, the commission’s chairman, Sen. Jeffrey Schoenberg, D-Evanston, said the city of Centralia had proposed in recent days that Murray Center campus be made available for private use, if it were to close.
Schoenberg said the sate had received “some documentation from the city of Centralia, in the last couple of days, sketching out a proposal” for a consortium of not-for-profit groups to acquire the campus.
After the commission’s meeting, Centralia Mayor Tom Ashby said the city had made no such proposal. Ashby said he thinks it was “just something that was suggested by the commission.”
Schoenberg said the Illinois Finance Authority would be “in a position” to help such a consortium take over Murray Center.
Labor unions representing Murray Center employees, which have fought alongside the city of Centralia and other municipalities and counties to keep Murray Center open, would likely oppose turning the center over to not-for-profits. Schoenberg noted that the employee union would be impacted.
“The structure and ownership of the real estate and the venue would be different, and obviously the relationship with the collective bargaining unit would be different, but that would be something that, it’s an option, that if the community wanted to exercise, they’d certainly be in a position to do so,” Schoenberg said.
Commission member Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, suggested that local governments in the Centralia area could join not-for-profits in running Murray Center.
“I would include, not just private groups, but local governmental groups,” Nekritz said.
Two area lawmakers, Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, and Rep. Paul Evans, R-O’Fallon, said it was the first they’d heard of such a proposal.
McCarter said he specifically asked the Department of Human Services as recently as a week ago if there had been any discussions of privatizing Murray Center.
“Obviously, something was taking place behind the scenes in regard to the option for privatization,” McCarter said. “I made the statement that the way to keep the jobs in Centralia, and not devastate the economy, and to keep these people in the facility that they’re in … that should have been an option we were talking about. It’s something we should have been talking about earlier.”
Sen. John O. Jones, R-Mount Vernon, said there may have been some confusion about the privatization issue. He said privatizing Murray Center wouldn’t be much different from what the state has already proposed.
“I think it’s important that it’s a state agency, and that center is run by the state,” Jones said. “I would be opposed to privatizing it, really.”
Quinn has proposed closing Murray Center and the other state facilities, mostly as a way to improve the state’s finances. But his staff also says institutionalization is an out-of-date way to care for people with developmental disabilities.
Murray Center has about 275 residents from across the region, mostly adults, and about 600 employees.
It costs the state up to $200,000 a year for a person in institutionalized care for the developmentally disabled, compared to about $80,000 per year for a person in community-based, private care, according to the governor’s office. Under Quinn’s plan, the state would provide funds for people with developmental disabilities to be placed in private care.
Nekritz, who voted in favor of closing Murray Center, said there are 27,000 Illinoisans with developmental disabilities who receive no services or inadequate services because the state doesn’t have enough money to provide care for them.
“There are other Illinoisans with families and loved ones who are affected by the decisions we make,” she said.
Rep. John Cavaletto, R-Salem, said afterward: “We’ve known all along that Murray Center is more than just a building, it’s a home. I’m so happy the members of COGFA could see that and agreed to recommend keeping it open to the governor.”
Evans said: “There are more battles to fight. But I think it was a very significant victory, in that there was an independent body looking at this plan, and they rejected it.”
Quinn also proposed closing a similar center in Jacksonville, which is further along in the process. The commission recommended keeping it open, but Quinn is proceeding to close it.
Quinn’s office issued a statement Tuesday: “We respect the role of COGFA in the facility closure process, as well as their engaged questioning throughout. We have incorporated a great deal of their input into our facility closure plans, however, we must continue to deal with our budget challenges and make the difficult decisions necessary to restore fiscal stability to Illinois. We will continue to work with legislators on COGFA and the rest of the General Assembly as this process moves forward.”
The commission voted Tuesday on seven proposed facility closures. It recommending closing a Department of Children and Family Services office in the Chicago area, but it voted against closing the other six facilities.
ASFSCME Council 31, a union representing state employees, issued a statement: “We applaud the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability for rejecting Gov. Quinn’s wrongful and damaging closure threats. The commission voted to protect essential public services and preserve more than 2,000 Illinois jobs.”
Copyright 2012 Belleville News-Democrat. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.