After Friday’s Supreme Court ruling on state pensions the need for new revenue becomes
much more critical. We are now faced with one of the biggest challenges to disability and
human services in my career.
Last Friday, the House of Representatives did not put a single vote on the Governor’s
proposed human services budget so it is back to the drawing board on the state budget.
If you have not talked to your elected representative in Springfield you need to do now more
than ever. The very disability system we have here in Illinois is on the brink and you need to
Today after a meeting with Representative Bellock, I will head to the Capitol to meet with
members of the administration and legislators calling for new revenue and the closing of
antiquated state institutions.
The time to act is now.
See Chicago editorial comments below.
Parents who rely on subsidized day care so they can earn a modest paycheck to feed
their families. Disabled citizens who need transportation to work or help with daily tasks,
from bathing to shopping to housekeeping. Seniors who would be in nursing homes if not
for regular caregiver visits.
The Illinois Constitution doesn’t protect their benefits. It protects the pension benefits of
state workers and retirees, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled Friday. But it doesn’t protect
the services provided to the state’s poor, sick and elderly residents.
With the court’s ruling Friday protecting one class of citizens, those other citizens face a
We’ve heard a lot in recent months from the people fighting to save social spending by the
state. We heard last week from people who represent disabled citizens. They were deeply,
genuinely worried — and that was before social service spending came under even
greater pressure because the Supreme Court ruled that state worker pension benefits are
protected by the constitution.
Senate Democrats held a hearing in Chicago to quiz the acting secretary of the Department
of Human Services about the consequences of program cuts. Social service providers and
their clients testified about the grave harm that would follow. Nobody doubts it.
House Speaker Michael Madigan drafted a human services budget that mirrored Gov. Bruce
Rauner’s spending proposal and dared lawmakers to vote for it. No one did. It was all theater.
This isn’t just about where the money will be spent over the next 12 months. The people who
rely on state government face decades of competition for money because the cost of those
constitutionally protected pensions will rise and rise and rise.
People will talk about restoring the income tax increase. Remember where that money went
for four years — to paying for the pensions, and for the bills that reckless lawmakers had
racked up. It didn’t go to those vulnerable citizens, those people who rely on this state for
assistance, those people who are the real victims of the lawmakers’ failure.
Tony Paulauski Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423