Here is a gutsy editorial from the Editorial Board of the State Journal! Tells it like it is, and we need our legislators to get some backbone and get behind the Governor’s Rebalancing Initiative today! If your legislators are not supporting it you need to push them!We are 27 days away from the end of the legislative session and we are witnessing legislators saying they support community services yet are voting to preserve our reliance on state institutions!
The Governor’s Rebalancing Initiative is a modest but courageous effort to move us into a person centered system we have been working on forever. Failure to advance this rebalancing will crush the hopes of future generations of people on the waiting list and young adults exiting out of special education.
My question to you is, are ready to make yourself heard about which direction the disability system needs to move?
Call your Senators and Representatives and demand that they support the closing of state institutions that Governor Quinn has recommended.
Our Opinion: Politicians talk cuts, but won’t OK them
GateHouse News Service
Posted May 03, 2012 @ 07:00 AM
If there’s one thing virtually everyone in Illinois agrees on, it’s that state government needs substantial cuts.
With an unpaid bill backlog of more than $4.6 billion — plus a few billion more in Medicaid bills that have not yet been submitted to the comptroller’s office for payment — this is no minor problem. We’ve heard it expressed in all quarters in many ways: Cut the fat, cut the waste, cut the pork barrel projects, cut the spending. Cut, cut, cut. No one has been more vocal in demanding cuts than lawmakers, especially those in the minority Republican Party.
But when the lawmakers who make up the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability met Tuesday to consider $127.8 million in cuts proposed by Gov. Pat Quinn, they lost their appetite for cutting. The commission rejected all but one of Quinn’s reductions, giving a unanimous OK to consolidating the Skokie office of the state Department of Children and Family Services with the Deerfield office for a savings of $709,000.
Let’s review: Given the chance to trim the budget by $127.8 million, COGFA members accepted $709,000. (That’s a .5 percent acceptance rate.)
Of course, COGFA’s votes are strictly advisory and the administration is not required to follow any of them. Using the political calculus of the legislature, there is no advantage to a lawmaker voting in favor of any state facility closure that might upset his or her constituents.
But Tuesday’s votes by COGFA underscore the flagrant double standard our state politicians employ when talking about budget cuts and making them.
We’re on record editorially supporting many of the proposed closures, including Tamms Correctional Center, which was voted down on Tuesday. We’ve also advocated for the state to move away from institutional housing of the developmentally disabled and into community-based home settings, as is the practice virtually everywhere else in the U.S. (We’d advocate for that even if no cost savings were involved.) We believe consolidating juvenile correctional facilities makes sense financially and in terms of helping young offenders.
In better times, we might not be so supportive of Quinn’s proposed closures. But, frankly, times have never been worse. Why can’t so many of our lawmakers see this?
Rep. Raymond Poe, R-Springfield, voted against the facility closures, suggesting that the state find money elsewhere, perhaps from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, to keep them open. Poe also mentioned that a gambling bill Quinn has promised, very forcefully, to veto could raise money to keep all the facilities open.
That’s an awful lot of work to maintain a status quo that has the state $4.6 billion in arrears.
Here’s a better idea: How about Illinois learn to operate with a leaner prison system, a modern form of housing the developmentally disabled and a sensible system for preventing juvenile offenders from becoming adult residents of our corrections system?
This is the problem with “cuts.” They affect people. Always. There is no magic money place where reducing spending is painless, even for your constituents. We guarantee one thing: Failure to make cuts — either those proposed by Quinn or their equivalents elsewhere — will bring on a whole lot more pain very soon.
Tony Paulauski Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423