The Governor has been meeting with legislators and this staff to discuss rebalancing the disability system. It is expected that there will once again be hearing on the proposed closing.Here is a story from the State Journal Register on the rebalancing discussions.
Lawmaker: Jacksonville facility on Quinn’s cut list again
From left Jacksonville Developmental Center employees James Bellm, Kirby Santacrose, Jack McNeece, and Lora Cave discuss the news of a possible closure facing their facility while on dinner break outside the Gillespie building Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011. (Jason Johnson/The State Journal-Register)
By DOUG FINKE (email@example.com)
The State Journal-Register
Posted Jan 16, 2012 @ 11:00 PM
Last update Jan 17, 2012 @ 05:23 AMThe Jacksonville Developmental Center is again being targeted for closure by Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration, a central Illinois lawmaker and a state employee union said Monday.
Rep. Jim Watson, R-Jacksonville, said he’s been in three meetings recently with other lawmakers and Quinn officials, and he believes the decision has already been made to close JDC after July 1.
“I thought the purpose of this (group) was to help develop criteria (for possible closures),” Watson said. “It became pretty obvious they had already picked the facilities they wanted to shut down, and we were going to be nothing more than a rubber stamp.”
The meetings are an outgrowth of last fall’s effort by Quinn to close seven state facilities (including the Jacksonville Developmental Center) and lay off more than 1,900 workers. Lawmakers agreed to reallocate money in the budget so that all of the facilities could stay open and layoffs be avoided until the end of the current budget year June 30.
Quinn made it clear at the time that he still wanted to close mental health facilities and centers for the developmentally disabled over the next couple of years and rely on community-based organizations to provide that care. Administration officials said the initial round of closures would be reflected in the budget Quinn presents this spring.
“Obviously, I’m concerned about the residents that have lived in Jacksonville at the facility forever,” Watson said. “And I’m concerned about the 400 employees.
“This community has been a partner with the state for a century and a half,” he said. “It appeared to me this administration was willing to go ‘thanks, but we’ll see you later.’ “
No decision yet
The Quinn administration released a statement indicating a decision hadn’t been made yet about which facilities might close.
“We have brought together advocates and experts in the field to develop transition plans for individuals moving into community care,” the statement says. “Our team has also met with legislators and given the General Assembly input into criteria to help the administration decide which facilities to transition to closure. We are taking the recommendations from all involved into consideration as we make final determinations and will make an announcement soon.”
Rita Burke, president of the Illinois League of Advocates for the Developmentally Disabled, said not all interest groups have been part of the discussions.
“We have been completely excluded,” Burke said. “We are pretty upset about it. We and our loved ones are most directly impacted. They have been meeting with people who want to see the closures.”
Burke said that residents of centers for the developmentally disabled require care that can only be provided in state facilities.
“Some of them absolutely require 24-hour care, which is not available in the community,” Burke said. “This is not a plan. This is a move out of desperation and political expediency.”
Watson said he understands that some mental health advocates want to shut down state facilities because they believe residents will be better off in community settings.
“But I don’t know how you don’t include the families in that process,” Watson said. “It seems rather callous to me.”
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees accused the administration of holding secret meetings.
“What was said repeatedly was the administration would engage in an open process with communities and families at the center of the process. That certainly did not happen here,” said AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall
Jacksonville willing to work with state
Lindall said a decision to close JDC “appears predicated on political and cost-cutting considerations rather than what individuals with mental illnesses need.”
An economic-impact study prepared when Quinn threatened to close JDC last fall said a total of 591 jobs in Morgan County would be affected by the closure. About $47 million in economic activity would also be lost.
Watson said he believes the Jacksonville community is willing to work with the state to make the Jacksonville Developmental Center more cost effective.
“This town would do a lot to make it more efficient for the state to operate that facility, for the sake of those individuals who are there and for the impact it has on the community.”
Doug Finke can be reached at 788-1527.
Copyright 2012 The State Journal-Register. Some rights reserved
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