We still have work to do. We dodged a very real bullet last week with the passage of a
budget package funding the state through June 30th. The package was signed by
Governor Rauner exempting developmental disability services from rate cuts, but it did
impose 2.25% cuts to respite care and other grants. It appears that all is good until June
30th when the fiscal year ends.

I found it fascinating that the budget package passed both the House and Senate with all
Republicans voting in favor of the package. The story here is that even though the
Democrats hold a super majority in both the House and the Senate, every legislator is
going to have an important role in the development of a state budget for Fiscal Year 2016
which begins July 1st. In recent years, the state budget has passed with only Democratic
votes. Things are very different now with a new Governor.

We need to step up our advocacy with your local legislators. They are now taking a two
week break and will be in their home district offices. Schedule an appointment now to talk
to them about funding disability services and take some other advocates with you.

Your message:

  • First tell your own story about why community is important to you. Ask your
    legislator to:
  1. Support new revenue. We cannot afford further cuts to disability services.
  2. Support the closure of state institutions and reinvest those resources into
    community services. We spend $428 million on antiquated state institutions. Use
    The Arc’s White Paper, “Community Integration Makes Sense”.
  3. Eliminate the PUNS Waiting List of 22,800 children and adults.
  4. Support the Care Campaign’s call for increased wages for direct support
    professionals.
  5. Do not cut respite care services and other grants including The Arc Life Span
    Program, The Autism Program, etc.
  6. Do not cut any disability services.

The time for action is now. Make your calls.

Don’t know who your legislator is? Go to this link: Find My Legislator

Story from Chicago Tribune on budget situation below.

Tony

Senate gives its approval to short-term budget fix
Rauner quick to sign bill, applauds bipartisan effort

By Kim Geiger and Jessie Hellmann Tribune reporters

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Senate on Thursday approved a measure that would
resolve the state’s short-term budget woes, even as larger money problems loom over
the rest of the spring session.

The product of months of negotiations between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and
the Democrats who control the General Assembly, the legislation passed on a
bipartisan vote of 32-26.

The measure had quickly cleared the House on Tuesday and Rauner promptly signed
it Thursday afternoon.

The plan plugs immediate funding shortages for day care programs, court reporter
salaries and prison staffing for the budget year that ends June 30. It allows about $1.3
billion to be taken from balances in special funds and creates at least $300 million in
savings by cutting spending by 2.25 percent across much of state government for the
last three months of the current budget year.

Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno, whose 20-member caucus voted
unanimously in favor, called it “a small but very significant step in moving this state
forward.”

“We will take a vote on this bill knowing full well it’s going to cause some hardships, but
it also does good things,” Radogno said in a brief debate before the vote.

The deal frees up $226 million for a subsidized child care program, $117 million to
meet payroll at Illinois prisons and $27 million for mental health service grants.
It raids $350 million from funds for road construction, a diversion that Rauner and
fellow Republicans have opposed in the past.

Passage of the measure relieves some pressure on Rauner, who inherited the
immediate crisis after Democrats enacted a budget last year that didn’t have enough
money to cover a full year’s expenses. Rauner initially had asked for broad powers to
move money around on his own to solve the shortfall, but he ran into opposition from
Democrats, particularly in the Senate, who didn’t trust him to make those decisions on
his own.

Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, acknowledged that the crisis was of the Democrats’
making when she urged her caucus to support the measure.

“We knew it was an incomplete budget,” Steans said. “This takes care of that without
adding any debt and without any new tax revenue.”

Rauner issued a statement thanking Republican and Democratic legislative leaders
“for their leadership in fixing this year’s fiscal crisis.”

“With their help, a bipartisan group of legislators sent a strong message that the culture
in Springfield is changing for the better,” Rauner said.

Passage of the budget fix also allowed lawmakers to take off for spring break with the
state’s most pressing money issue resolved.

But the respite will be brief.

When lawmakers return to Springfield in April, attention will turn to budget negotiations
for the year that begins July 1.

Rauner and the Democrats are divided over his proposal to make deep cuts without
raising taxes in order to address what he estimates is a $7 billion shortage.


Tony Paulauski
Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423
815-464-1832 (OFFICE)
 
Tony@thearcofil.org