Happy Fourth of July!  There is so much going on between the state and federal level, I split this email into do.  This is the State Budget Policy Edition!

As everyone knows, we are wrapping the official special session for the state legislature, called by Governor Rauner at little more than a week ago.  Moody’s and others have indicated that they will decrease Illinois’ bond status to junk unless there is a budget by tonight at midnight.  This matters because it costs Illinois even more to borrow at that level.  Governor Rauner has indicated that he might keep legislatures in an extended special session if there is not budget.

Senator Radogno Steps Down

Yesterday afternoon, it was released that Senate Republican Leader, Christine Radogno, is stepping now as of this Saturday.  It is a huge loss for us as in addition to being supportive of many of our issues, she was a leader willing to compromise and work with the other side, as she tried to do through the grand bargain effort that ultimately failed in the Senate.

Special Session Legislation

The special session has seen some movement.  Prior to the session, Senate Democrats passed a spending and revenue package that was lower than Governor Rauner’s proposed budget and included revenue as well as cuts.  On Wednesday the House Democrats shared spending package that was similar to the Senate in size and scope (about $36.5 billion) and released a revenue plan late last night which includes a personal tax increase from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent.  A vote is expected early this morning.

The tribune has a good summary of where we are as well.

Issues around the permanency of any tax increase, the property tax freeze and exemptions to pay pension payments and the school reform bill are all be debated between Speaker Madigan and Governor Rauner.  Comptroller Mendoza added her voice last year stating that without a budget by July 1 and because of the federal mandate to pay down a significant portion of the Medicaid provider bills, she would need to start making choices between paying consent decrees, state works and pension payments among other things.  Here is her statement.  https://illinoiscomptroller.gov/news-portal/comptroller-mendoza-reaches-out-to-state-leadership/#.WU_ImWgrI2x

In the House proposal, there are number of good things for individuals with disabilities:

  1. DSP 75 cent wage increase.  It is not enough but the legislature has indicated that they support and understand the $15 per hour and there is a hope that in future appropriation processes, they would increase it through a stepped up process. In addition, other providers/workers in aging are seeing a 2 percent cut.
  2. All of the DD grants that we fight for every year including the Autism Program Life Span, Best Buddies and Epilepsy as well as important respite dollars are included.

 What needs to be done:

  1. Call the Governor (217-782-0244) and your House member (find that person here – type in your address) and say:

“ The time is now, we need a responsible budget in order to ensure that people with disabilities and their families can continue to stay in communities across Illinois. Please pass a budget today!”

Ligas – State Response

As you know the Ligas consent decree is the reason that IDD services has been less affected by the budget crisis in Illinois.  Services are still woefully underfunded and limited as well as we still have a 19,000 person waiting list!  Recently, the Plaintiff’s submitted a motion to enforce the Ligas Consent Decree to the judge, arguing that the state had failed to comply with the decree because among other reasons access to quality services is limited because of the extraordinarily low rates and wages.  They asked the judge to force an increase in rates to address the issue.

Last Friday, the state submitted their 23 page response, which asks the judge not to force the state to raise rates due to the state budget crisis and because they have met the requirement of moving 3000 people off the PUNS waiting list.  They also highlighted that the issue of wages and turnover is not unique to Illinois but rather a crisis across the country.  Due to the consent decree, individuals are still receiving services and providers are still getting paid unlike many other social service providers in the state without a budget.  In fact, the state indicated that CILAs are still opening and more individuals are still moving in so even with low rates, there has been a growth in this option.

Obviously the Arc supports the Plaintiffs’ efforts to force the state to address the wages and rate issue so we watch to see what will happen at the hearing July 5 as well as any ruling from the Judge later this summer.  The Plaintiffs have two weeks to respond to the state’s submission.

Here is the state’s response.

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