Thank you for the opportunity to present this testimony.
The Arc of Illinois represented the 220,000 infants, children and adults with intellectual and other developmental disabilities in Illinois and their families. We have over 10,000 individual members and 55 chapters in Illinois.
The Arc supports the Governor’s Proposed Budget for FY’2014.
Our support of this budget is because of Governor Quinn’s Rebalancing Initiative which 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.
It continues the Governor’s Rebalancing Initiative by closing costly non-productive state institutions by reinvesting in community services. This plan is a model for the nation and deserves the full support of the Illinois General Assembly. 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 and bring them to a 30 day payment schedule.
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 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.
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.
Lastly, the severe cuts imposed by the SMART act like eliminating the bed hold policy so residents at group homes can visit their families on weekends or take a vacation does great harm. The drastic cuts to health care including eliminating dental and restricting prescriptions are foolish.
The Arc supports the Governor’s Proposed Budget and encourages your continued support of rebalancing the disability service system in Illinois by closing state institutions and provider better care and options in the community.