This morning the House Appropriations Human Services Committee passed out a budget for FY’2014 by a vote of 13 to 6.
The Arc supports the new proposed budget for FY’2014 and a new supplemental appropriations bill for FY’2013.
The major positive change in this package of budget bills is the paying down of all of providers bills in this fiscal year if the supplemental appropriation bill passes both the House and the Senate. This is huge for the Developmental Disability System. Again if this budget package passes, the Division and other Departments will start Fiscal Year 2014 without any backlog of payments to providers.
This new budget includes the Governor Quinn’s Rebalancing Initiative which also includes funding the Ligas Consent Decree which expands community-based services/supports to 1,150 individuals with disabilities.
500 individuals will come off the PUNS Waiting List as a result of the Ligas Consent Decree.
200 individuals will move from ICFDD’s to smaller community living arrangements as a result of the Ligas Consent Decree.
The state institution in Centralia, the Murray Developmental Center, will close and the 260 residents at Murray will finally have the opportunity to live a full life of their choice in the community as a result of rebalancing.
Another 100 residential at other state institutions will transition into the community as a result of rebalancing.
90 children aging out of the DCFS system will move into community living as well.
This budget and last years budget for the Division of Developmental Disabilities represents the greatest expansion of community services in my career.
The proposed budget allocates funds to pay all old bills on hand for Developmental Disability Service Providers by the end of this fiscal year.
Community grants for Respite Care, The Autism Project, UIC Family Clinic, UIC Assistive Technology, Epilepsy Grants, Dental Grants, Best Buddies and Arc Illinois Life Span Grant are all funded in this proposed budget.
The bed hold policy was reinstated so residents of group homes can once again visit their families on weekends or take a vacation without causing fiscal harm to providers. There is also some restoration of limited dental services in the new budget as well.
The most glaring short fall of this budget is the lack of funding for wages of direct care staff supporting individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. The average wage for direct care staff in our system is about $9.50 per hour and this wage makes many of our staff eligible for food stamps. We need to do better. I must say that this budget also includes pay increases for state employees which they deserve but why not support our community employees as well?
There is also no recognition of the increased health insurance costs for non-profits as the Affordable Care Act begins to phase in requiring health insurance coverage for all employees working over 30 hours per week.
The Arc supports the new proposed budget and encourages legislators to support the rebalancing of the disability service system in Illinois by closing state institutions and provider better care and options in the community.
There may be other changes in the new budget but I believe these are the major points of the new budget that passed the House Appropriations Human Services Committee this morning.
Tony Paulauski Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423