Arc and How the Election will Impact the Disability Community
We had an excellent Executive Forum meeting on Wednesday with our Executive
Directors. Below are comments from my written notes and hopefully reflect the positions
of the people on our panel.
The first presentation was “How the Election Results will Impact the Disability
Phil Milsk, The Arc’s Governmental Affairs Consultant, focused on the big picture and
how the new administration will impact special education and human services in
general. We will see new leadership as the Superintendent of Education and Secretary
of Human Services. Those appointments will indicate the leadership and direction of
those agencies. The Governor Elect is a proponent of charter schools, so we can
expect to see emphasis on charter schools. Phil also commented about how the new
Governor will work with Speaker Madigan and President Cullerton who both hold veto
proof majorities in both the House and Senate. Phil predicted that rebalancing will
Shirley Perez, Executive Director of the Family Support Network, talked about the
election’s impact on families and minorities. Shirley stated that the families she had
talked to have some concerns but also see possibilities with the new administration.
Concerns were cuts to already underfunded community services and Managed Care
Phase Three. Families hope that rebalancing with continue, that people will continue to
move off the PUNS waiting list and that there will be more emphasis on employment first
and integrated community supports. There is some concern within the African American
Community about who the Governor will go to for advice and support. She ended by
stating the importance of families, self-advocates and providers working together with
the same message on the importance of community services.
Jim Kales, CEO, Aspire of Illinois, worked on the Rauner campaign and lent his
perspective on that support. While all of us have concerns over the state’s fiscal situation,
we must admit the current system is dysfunctional. We need to give the new Governor
time to be educated to our issues and to work on creating a climate for growth in Illinois.
Jim stated that rebalancing should continue, government needs to streamline and reduce
redundant regulations on community. Over all, Jim is very optimistic about a new Rauner
Kim Zoeller, CEO of Ray Graham Association, focused on major provider issues that will
be faced by the new administration including a stable workforce, supporting the Care
Campaign, workers compensation reform, minimum wage and a very serious concern
about Managed Care. Kim also stated that rebalancing must continue with a new
administration. She saw opportunities with Governor Rauner and is optimistic.
All members of this panel discussion saw opportunity with the election of Governor Rauner
and look forward to working with the new Governor and his team to build community
services for individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. This was a
great session. Special thank you to all of the panel members!
Below I have included today’s editorial from the Chicago Tribune, “What a Governor
Rauner Means for Illinois”, which reflects some of the commentary voiced by our
Greg Fenton, Deputy Director, Illinois Dept. of Human Services, Division of Developmental
Disabilities, gave us an update on the Life Choices Project that he has been working on
this past year and is now making recommendations. His presentation and
recommendations can be viewed in his PowerPoint presentation, “Life Choices Update”.
What a Gov. Rauner means for Illinois
And now, with a new governor ready to take his oath, all eyes in Illinois turn to Springfield.
That in itself is remarkable. One party has run state government for so long that many
voters could spend less time brightly wondering “What next?” than nervously mumbling
For all of us, then, a new day.
Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan and Democratic Senate President John
Cullerton have a combined 80 years in the statehouse and enjoy impressive control of
their chambers. But joining them Monday is a Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, whose
tenure in public office spans … not one day. He evidently thinks he hasn’t missed a thing.
And we’ll be stunned if he makes a life of this work.
Rauner enjoys two liberties that his predecessor governors didn’t: His sole debt is to the
people of Illinois who elected him. And he has the financial means to talk with voters about
what happens in Springfield — and perhaps to change the cast of characters there. Last
week’s news that Rauner and two allies had infused his campaign chest with a fresh $20
million means he can organize new advocacy groups to build public support for his
initiatives. Or buy TV ad time. Or finance legislative candidates to challenge incumbents
who oppose dramatic reforms.
Some people are curious about how the new governor will mount a rescue effort for their
state. Others wait to criticize whatever comes out of his mouth.
By himself, of course, Rauner can’t do much. Democrats have veto-proof majorities in
both legislative chambers. That said, he can shine bright lights on his friends and foes.
Illinois will have a governor who is well-equipped to mobilize the voters who elected him
precisely so he would change how Springfield operates.
Unless he veers off course, that means:
• Urging lawmakers to scale back the overreaching tax and regulatory policies that have
made Illinois so uncompetitive for new jobs. That means awakening legislators to the stark
reality that the economic recovery they’ve long awaited as the way to fund all their
spending won’t happen unless they help make it happen.
• Halting the self-destructive habit of lawmakers budgeting more in expenses than they
realistically expect in revenues.
• Redirecting whatever resources he can toward education. That’s the new governor’s
• Reducing the cumulative burdens — on employers and other taxpayers — that have
been created by those 7,000 local Illinois governments, a dusty roster far longer than that
of any other state.
• This one is our hope more than Rauner’s stated promise: Zero-basing all that state
government does voluntarily so that every department, every function, every expenditure,
has to earn its way into the state budget. Returning Illinois to its core missions, and
jettisoning the rest, would streamline an oafish government still structured for its century of
origin: the 1800s.
How will Rauner perform? His first significant appointment — of former business
executive Leslie Munger as state comptroller — is encouraging. We called Munger “poised
and whip-smart” when we endorsed her for an Illinois House seat last year. If Rauner can
recruit more people with her skill set to a government that has amassed $200 billion in
debts, he stands a chance of improving Illinois’ finances.
First and foremost, though, comes the mission of improving Illinois’ economy. That’s the
sure path to higher tax revenues. With the inauguration of a Gov. Rauner, 10 of the 12
Midwestern states now will have Republican governors. Why have so many voters, in so
many states, made that commitment?
We wrote after the November election that many of those voters are Democrats
repudiating the blue-state script that has governed Illinois: Tax more, borrow more,
promise more, and at labor contract time, spend more public dollars to reward the fealty
of union bosses. The GOP’s evolving Midwest Model, by contrast, stresses solutions and
performance over social issues and class warfare. In general these governors have kept
budgets in line, resisted tax hikes, stabilized pension systems and made their economies
more conducive to the kind of jobs growth that would solve many of Illinois’ brutal fiscal
We won’t predict how leaders of Springfield will adjust to the new guy in town. For many
of their caucus members, though, one imperative is central as the Rauner era begins:
They’d much rather run for re-election on a record of helping salvage Illinois than on a
record of resistance.
Tony Paulauski Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423