A lot of activity in the Capitol yesterday which I will share with you later. I wanted to let you know that now the House approved Senate Bill 2038, a human services funding bill with community grants.
Senate Bill 2038 includes:
- The Autism Program …$1,969,400
- Best Buddies …$447,700
- The Arc of Illinois 18 for the Life Span Project …$215,900
- Dental Grants for People with DD …$451,600
- Out of State residential services people with DD..$229,000
- Respite Care Services ..$4,020,300
- Epilepsy Services ………………………….$950,400
- Total $8,284,300
It is unsure if the Governor will support this bill even though the funding for these important services would come from a specialized fund. More to come.
Story from Chicago Tribune on this bill follows.
House OKs funds for social services
Rauner lukewarm on $700 million plan for agencies
By Monique Garcia and Celeste Bott
SPRINGFIELD — House lawmakers advanced legislation Wednesday that would pump roughly $700 million into the state’s network of social service providers, a stopgap plan aimed at curbing layoffs and closings as agencies that care for the vulnerable struggle to keep the lights on after going nearly a year without funding.
While the measure cleared a House committee without opposition, Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office raised doubts that he would sign off on it, saying he’s focused on a more comprehensive budget deal.
Under the plan, roughly $450 million would come from a specialized fund earmarked for human services that is supported by a portion of income tax revenue.
An additional $250 million would come from federal sources and other special funds.
The money would be used on dozens of programs including mental health counseling, treatment for those with epilepsy and autism, homeless prevention services, care for patients with HIV/AIDS, breast and cervical cancer screening and burial expenses for the poor.
Sponsoring Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, said the money amounts to roughly 46 percent of what social service providers would have received under the budget Democrats sent Rauner last year, which he vetoed.
While some providers have been able to operate with relatively little disruption after court orders kept the funding spigot on, many others have raided reserves or cut back on services to keep their doors open as they await state payment.
Last week, a group of more than 64 agencies sued the Rauner administration, saying the state owes them more than $100 million for services they have provided since budget impasse began in July.
Harris said the legislation would relieve some of the immediate financial pressure, and “we hope that we will be able to make whole all of the agencies who have been providing services.”
The proposal follows an earlier stopgap plan to keep universities and community colleges open through the fall, a bipartisan agreement that Rauner signed off on because it did not rely on money from the state’s general checkbook but again tapped into specialized funds that had surpluses after income tax season.
Officials with Rauner’s office threw cold water on the social services plan, saying they feared the legislation is a signal that Democrats will pull out of behind-the-scenes negotiations aimed at striking a comprehensive deal, which has thus far remained elusive.
Further, if lawmakers continue to empty those funds, there will be less flexibility for Rauner down the road when the next budget emergency arises — such as the operation of prisons, where vendors also are waiting to be paid.
“The administration supports full-year funding for human services, public safety and public health in the context of a complete balanced budget for (this year and next),” said spokeswoman Catherine Kelly.
Still, Republicans gave initial approval to the plan Wednesday, with reservations.
“I think that most of our members are probably going to support this bill today, but there are some concerns because we haven’t had time to really read through it or our staff to read through it,” said Rep. Patti Bellock, R-Hinsdale. “I’m just asking that you’ll work with us for the next day or two over the bill.”
In other action Wednesday, home health care workers sounded off over the Rauner’s decision to limit their overtime pay, with caregivers telling a House panel that the state’s neediest residents are suffering because of the cost-cutting move.
A federal rule took effect earlier this year that would require those workers to be paid at time and a half when they work overtime.
Under Rauner’s policy, which took effect May 1, overtime pay is allowed only in exceptional circumstances. The administration contends the state cannot afford to comply in the midst of its budget stalemate and has said that additional workers must be brought into any home where the primary caregiver has already worked 40 hours that week.
Advocates for the disabled contend that’s easier said than done, as part-time health care workers aren’t well-compensated to do a difficult job.
Patients testified that they feared having to wait for care if a crisis happens outside their workers’ shifts, losing personal assistants they’ve grown close to after years of service and ultimately having to be institutionalized.
SEIU Healthcare Illinois, the union representing the state’s home health care workers, filed a claim with the Illinois Labor Relations Board this month, saying the governor should have first negotiated new overtime rules with them.
The union also argued that it’s foolish to cut home health care funding, as it saves the state millions. It estimates the average cost of home health care services is $15,217 per year, compared with the $52,000 per year it costs to live in a nursing home.
But the state’s goal isn’t to send more of those consumers to residential care, said Greg Bassi, chief of staff for Rauner’s Department of Human Services, who said most agencies and businesses expect their employees to justify requests for overtime pay.
He added that the agency has worked to recruit up to 5,000 additional providers to help fill the gap.
“Individuals living in their home are actually safer in the long run when they no longer have to rely on just one person that can provide that care, that understands their needs and that can be there in case something does happen,” Bassi said.
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423