Money is in the new state budget to keep the Jacksonville Developmental Center open, but it is likely to close anyway.
Gov. Pat Quinn said Friday he hasn’t changed his mind about moving people with developmental disabilities from state institutions to community-based settings.
“I already made my position clear on that,” Quinn said at a news conference when asked about the future of JDC. “We have to deinstitutionalize in Illinois, moving to a different system with respect to helping our citizens who have developmental disabilities. It’s going to be based on community care. I’m not going back on that principle.”
Quinn called for closing JDC and several other mental health facilities in his budget proposal. The budget passed by lawmakers Thursday contains money to keep the facilities open, although lawmakers disagree whether it is enough money to keep all of them open for a full year.
Rep. Jim Watson, R-Jacksonville, fought to get money for JDC into the budget. He said he knows the General Assembly can’t force Quinn to keep facilities open, but providing the money demonstrates that lawmakers believe that’s the correct policy.
“It shows the overall will of the General Assembly is to have it there,” Watson said. “I knew there was nothing I could do to get him to say yes, but if we didn’t get it in there it would be simple for him (to close it).”
Having money in the budget also means the closure process doesn’t have to be rushed if that’s what Quinn wants to do, Watson said.
Quinn said he realizes closing the facility will be a hardship for employees, but didn’t say that would change his mind.
“It’s going to be an adjustment, but with respect to the workers, I know they can do well and go forward,” Quinn said.
The state has been moving residents out of the facility since Quinn announced the closure plan.
Doug Finke can be reached at 788-1527.
Tony Paulauski Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423