The Governor introduced his second state budget yesterday, however, with no budget finalized for FY’16 after eight long months, will the General Assembly pay attention to anything he is proposing today for Fiscal Year 2017?

If the General Assembly is not willing to work with him deep cuts are forthcoming.

In recent years, the history of the Governor’s budget address, including during the Quinn administration, has been that the General Assembly has basically rewritten their own state budget. The difference is that before the Governor Rauner, lawmakers and the Governor have been able to reach agreement on spending priorities. Obviously this has not been the case this past year, and Human Services certainly is suffering because of that.

We are opposed to this budget which does not close any state institutions. It does not include a cost of living increase.  It’s been 11 years since the last one. This budget does not include an increase in wages and benefits for Direct Support Professionals. None of the grants were restored. The PUNS waiting list remains at 22,000 people!.

In addition, important outside pressures on the Developmental Disabilities system remain unaddressed in this budget:  compliance with the Ligas Consent Decree; new CMS rules that call for integrated community services; new Dept. of Labor overtime regulations; the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) which focuses on a renewed commitment to workforce development, and Employment First.

While we are opposed to this budget, there are areas of merit.

This budget does include the movement of 500 people off the PUNS waiting list because of the Ligas Consent Decree.

There will be 200 people transitioning out of ICFDDs into the community because of the Ligas Consent Decree.

No further cuts to rates or services.

Fifty people will move out of state institutions and 50 DCFS wards will also move into the community.

There are no payment delays expected because of the Ligas Consent Decree.

Respite care is still funded at the 90% level but there is no court protections so no payments are being made.

Balancing Incentive Programs, BIP, will continue

In the budget briefing, DHS Secretary Dimas and other Directors talked about these 5 transitional areas of Health & Human Services Reform:

  • Prevention and Public Health
  • Building Community Capacity
  • Paying for Value, Quality & Outcomes
  • Education & Self Sufficiency
  • Data Analytics

The Division of Developmental Disabilities budget is now $1.46 billion! A good deal of that budget is spent on institutional services.

Illinois currently spends $429 mil per year to operate 7 state institutions that incarcerate 1,678 individuals with developmental disabilities. That is $248,000 per individual per year or $700 per day! Illinois could save hundreds of millions per year by redirecting funds from state institutions to community living. The remarkably successful transition of individuals from Jacksonville Developmental Center proves this can work. The average cost of moving individuals from Jacksonville into the community was $104,000!

The Arc was extremely disappointed that the Secretary clearly stated in his comments that no state institutions would close this year. HFS Director Norwood also stated that there will always be individuals who need institutional care. We have a lot of work to do.

The Arc will continue to call for the closure of six of the seven fully operational state institutions and call for new revenue.

I suspect that the budget that has been introduced today will reinforce the findings of non-compliance reported in the Ligas Court Monitor’s 4th Annual Report.

In my opinion, DDD requires a total structural transformation by investing integrated community based services moving away from institutions and segregation . We also must focus on building social capital for the individuals we support. Lastly, we cannot support any budget that does not address the current Direct Service Professional Recruitment & Retention Crisis.

The Governor introducing his budget is the first step in the Illinois budget building process.  It will be fascinating to see how the General Assembly reacts to this budget and any rewrites they will probably make.

I look forward to your comments and questions on the proposed budget.

Here is a link to the Dept. of Human Services Budget Briefing PowerPoint.

Here is a link to the State of Illinois Operating Budget.

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