I have been meeting with legislators this week about the Governor’s proposed budget and the Rebalancing Initiative. Yesterday, Katherine Hamann, Shirley Perez and I met with Rep Patti Bellock. Rep Bellock is the Co-Chairperson of COGFA which will soon vote on the closure of Jacksonville. Today Katherine and I will meet with Rep Sara Feigenholtz and Senator Heather Steans. Rep Feigenholtz is the Chairperson of the House Appropriations Human Services Committee. Senator Steans is the Chairperson of the Senate Appropriations Committee which reviews the Dept of Human Services budget.
Tonight we celebrate the retirement of Envision CEO Kristin MacRAE. Best to you Kristin for all you have done for people with disabilities and their families. Ray Janutis has been appointed the new CEO at Envision.You can see from the story below that we are going to have a battle to rebalance the disability system here in Illinois.



Republican senators back Democrat’s proposal to block Quinn closures

SPRINGFIELD — Two Republican lawmakers are throwing their support behind a Democratic proposal aimed at blocking Gov. Pat Quinn from closing large state facilities.

Republican state Sens. John Jones of Mount Vernon and Shane Cultra of Onarga said Wednesday they will back state Sen. Gary Forby’s legislation that would give members of the General Assembly a voice in decisions to close state facilities.

The trio represent areas that include prisons and other large institutions being targeted for closure by Quinn as part of his budget plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

The facilities include Tamms Correctional Center, Dwight Correctional Center, the youth prison in Murphysboro, Murray Developmental Center in Centralia and several other large institutions.

Cultra and Jones had attempted to derail facility closures within their districts by pushing legislation that would require the state to conduct a four- or five-year planning process to review which state institutions should be shuttered.

That idea, which also was floated in 2008 in response to a threat to close Pontiac Correctional Center, would give local communities and state workers time to prepare for the economic changes that might occur if a prison or other large facility closes.

The two Republicans said Wednesday they were backing Forby’s anti-closure idea because their own proposal wasn’t expected to advance in the spring legislative session.

Under current law, the governor makes recommendations on state closures to the General Assembly’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability. The commission then makes a non-binding recommendation on whether the state closures should go forward.

Forby’s proposal would give lawmakers the right to accept or reject the commission’s recommendation. The governor would not be able to overrule the decision.

The measure was forwarded to the full Senate last week and could be called for a vote later this month.

“I think the General Assembly should have some say,” said Jones.

Cultra said the state should still investigate implementing some kind of long-term facility closure plan in order to avoid the upheaval created when a governor seeks to reduce spending.

“It devastates communities,” Cultra said. “It only makes sense to have a facilities plan.”


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