SPRINGFIELD – For families of individuals with disabilities in Illinois, the process of securing job training services, residential housing options or day programs can be an arduous process that can takes years.
“My son has been waiting for services since 2008,” said Mike Baker, parent and State Advocacy Chair of Autism Speaks.
Baker testified today about the importance of providing services for individuals with disabilities at a Senate Human Services Committee hearing held at the Bilandic Building in downtown Chicago.
State Senator Julie Morrison (D – Deerfield), Vice-Chairwoman of the Human Services Committee, attended the hearing and expressed concern about the high number of individuals currently waiting for services.
“There are more than 18,000 individuals with disabilities waiting for services in Illinois,” Morrison said. “Families across the state are rightfully concerned with the high level of uncertainty about the ability of the state to provide services now and in the future.”
Today’s hearing took testimony about current state compliance with the Ligas Consent Decree, a 2011 court mandate that requires Illinois to provide community-based services to individuals with developmental disabilities.
While the decree has helped transition thousands of individuals from institutional settings to community-based centers, requirements contained in the mandate expire after June 15, 2017, causing concern among parents and advocacy groups.
Another issue discussed at today’s hearing was a recent court decision that Illinois was out of compliance with the Ligas Decree due to the lack of payment increases to providers. Numerous providers have experienced high staff turnover rates and are not able to expand their services.
“Something’s wrong when caring for individuals with disabilities is valued less than flipping burgers or walking pets,” said caregiver Christine Rivera, who works in a suburban Community Integrated Living Arrangement (CILA).
CHICAGO — In an effort to ensure immigrants get the services they need, Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) is headed to Springfield tomorrow to vote for a plan that would help our state’s newest residents.
“It’s been a year since Illinois stopped funding immigrant services,” Martinez said. “Service providers and immigrants are suffering. We need to do the right thing and get immigrant services funded now.”
During the budget impasse, Welcoming Centers have closed their doors due to lack of state funding. Immigration integration services have gone unfunded too.
Welcoming Centers serve as lifelines to our state’s newest residents by offering classes and providing information on topics such as employment training and home ownership.
Immigration integration services include language assistance, health care, citizenship services and other basic supports.
“Immigrants are part of our communities, and we need to have programs and services in place that invest in them and help strengthen the culture and economy of our state,” Martinez said.
According to the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, immigrants make up 14 percent of Illinois’ population and 18 percent of the state’s workforce.
The Senate plan Martinez will vote for tomorrow is designed to get immigrant services and other vital human service programs funded. These programs have been without state aid during the budget impasse.
CHICAGO – More than $25 million in state funding for youth employment and after-school programs is up for a vote in the Illinois Senate on Wednesday.
“Once thriving after-school programs on Chicago’s South Side are struggling to remain open,” said State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago), a career advocate for youth jobs and violence prevention in the city. “Last year, I met teenage filmmakers at After School Matters who used their cameras to lead anti-violence efforts in our community. Now, those teens are at risk of losing the very activities that kept them safe during dangerous summers.”
In November, Hunter visited the video and music production program TechKno Camp to participate in the students short docudrama focused on violence prevention.
An Illinois Senate-assembled plan would provide $13 million for youth programs like Teen Reach and $12 million for youth employment and after-school programs in the state.
Additional proposals to provide $655 million to public universities including Chicago State University and increase Chicago Public Schools’ funding by $286 million are on the table for Wednesday.
“I hope the governor will give our youth a fighting chance by adequately funding youth programs, K-12 education and public universities,” Hunter said.
The Senate will convene on Wednesday at noon to take action on pending budget measures.
SPRINGFIELD — To open schools on time, fund universities, maintain road projects and protect the state’s most vulnerable, State Senator Melinda Bush called on the General Assembly and Governor Bruce Rauner to pass stop gap funding measures.
“The legislation we’re about to debate in Springfield reflects a compromise for both sides,” said Bush, D-Grayslake. “We have a choice this week between fighting for ideology or coming together to fulfill our duty to students, businesses and the people who need our help the most. We must make the right choice.”
A wide-ranging stop gap package includes an increase of $760 million to state schools, including increases to early childhood education at a level proposed by Governor Rauner, $1 billion to higher education to cover operational costs and tuition grants that have gone unpaid during the budget impasse, operational funds for state agencies to ensure facilities such as prisons can remain open, funding for Department of Transportation road projects and $650 million in funding for human services that include programs like autism relief, addiction treatment, and aid to those with mental illness, developmental disability and the blind and aged.
“It is unfortunate that we’re here at the eleventh hour debating a stop gap measure, but it isn’t too late to do what Illinoisans have been clear in calling on us to do: Our jobs,” Bush said. “I call on the governor to do his.”
The General Assembly convenes tomorrow to consider the legislation.
ALTON – State Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton) continued his tour of human service agencies on Wednesday by visiting Impact CIL in Alton to see how the budget impasse continues to affect human service agencies and the citizens of his district.
Impact CIL, an organization that helps the disabled, currently has a sign posted on its front door that reads, “Due to the state budget impasse our office will be closed on Fridays until further notice.” A step inside and the employees and Executive Director Cathy Contarino will give testament to just how dire the situations is.
JOLIET — As each day without a proper state budget passes, the financial condition of the state’s human services providers grows more and more perilous. Today, State Senator Pat McGuire has urged the governor to sign legislation that will free hundreds of millions of dollars for these beleaguered providers.
“In late April and early May, the General Assembly hit on a winning, bipartisan formula to get sorely needed funds to higher education and human services, the two parts of the current fiscal year budget that are stuck,” McGuire said. “The governor signed the bill for higher ed but so far refuses to sign the bill for human services. For the sake of Illinois’ most vulnerable residents, Gov. Rauner needs to sign Senate Bill 2038 right away.”
Painful decisions have been made by human service providers all across the state, including in the 43rd District. Pam Heavens, executive director for Will-Grundy Center for Independent Living, says the focus must be on those who receive these vital services.
“Due to the budget impasse, Will-Grundy Center for Independent Living was forced to lay off a full-time staff member and institute furlough days. Human service providers are suffering due to the impasse; some may close,” Heavens said. “The never-ending finger pointing must stop. Focus must be on ensuring that the most vulnerable citizens have access to the services that keep them healthy and strong.”
Senate Bill 2038 provides about $700 million in emergency funding to human services providers who contract with the state of Illinois to assist ill seniors, survivors of sexual assault, homeless youth, and persons fighting mental illness and substance abuse. The measure was sent to the governor May 18 after passing the Senate and House with “yes” votes from every Democrat and Republican voting.
Senator Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, issued the following statement regarding Gov. Bruce Rauner’s decision to veto another appropriations bill from the Legislature:
“Gov. Rauner’s stubborn refusal to propose a balanced budget – a duty outlined in the Illinois Constitution – has left Illinois to drift like a ship with no captain. “In the absence of actual leadership from the governor’s office, the General Assembly for months now has been forced to act unilaterally as we try to propose budget bills that the governor might sign to help residents who have been left to suffer without the state’s assistance. It’s a frustrating exercise.
SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines) issued the statement below following Gov. Rauner’s veto of Senate Bill 2046, which would have provided funding for universities, community colleges and MAP grants.“The governor is sending a confusing message to Illinois businesses and taxpayers. While he says that improving Illinois’ business climate is his top priority, eliminating funding for higher education does exactly the opposite.“Over 60 percent of jobs in the current work force require a college-level education. Cutting these funds for colleges and preventing students from being able to further their education after high school will have a long-term impact not only on their future, but on the future of our economy.“The governor and legislative leaders need to drop the partisan rhetoric, get to Springfield and negotiate a budget that protects working-class families before the destruction done to Illinois is irreversible.”
PLAINFIELD — State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) issued the following statement after the governor vetoed Senate Bill 2046, a budget bill designed to get needed money to public universities and community colleges, human service agencies and other vital programs:I am disappointed that the governor vetoed a plan that would invest in our students, protect our seniors and help the addicted and homeless. When he ran for governor, he called for a more compassionate and competitive Illinois. This is a good goal to have, but he won’t make Illinois a better place by cutting off aid to students and closing the doors at human services agencies.Despite this veto, I remain committed to continuing to vote for budget proposals that will keep education, social services and other core services operating.
CHICAGO – In May, the General Assembly sent a human services emergency funding bill, with strong bipartisan support, to the governor's desk. Senate Appropriations II Chairman Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) released the following statement urging the governor to be timely by signing the measure into law.
"Illinoisans should not wait unnecessarily for the state to take action when a human services budget is sitting on the governor's desk. More than $700 million will help restore community mental health services, supportive housing, meals and care for seniors, and critical funding for cancer research.
"The time is now to stop the collapse of our social safety net. Put the people of Illinois first by signing this plan into law."
SPRINGFIELD – A bipartisan-backed human services emergency funding bill is sitting on the governor's desk. Majority Caucus Whip Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) released the following statement, urging the governor to sign the plan into law:
"A human services funding plan is sitting on the governor's desk. The Senate and House worked in a bipartisan fashion to craft an emergency funding bill that will keep our state afloat.
“We are seeing in Chicago and across our state the devastating effects of not having a budget in place. Without critical programs like Redeploy Illinois, we will continue to see a rise in teen violence.
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Senate passed legislation today to help shore up Illinois’ desperate human services systems.
State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) voted to release more than $700 million to local government and non-profit agencies that provide services such as mental health care, drug addiction treatment and home-delivered meals for seniors. McGuire is a co-sponsor of the measure, SB 2038, which passed the Senate on a 55-0 vote.
“Tens of thousands of Will County residents who faced the loss of essential services will benefit from today’s action,” McGuire said. “Just as with recent funding for higher education, Democrats and Republicans came together. But just as with the higher education measure, this human services measure provides less than half of what the General Assembly one year ago authorized the governor to devote to helping people. We must keep working.”
Having passed both the House and Senate, SB 2038 awaits the governor’s signature.
Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) defends funding human service agencies for the FY2016 budget on a concurrence vote.
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois’ colleges and universities have begun receiving funding from the state for the first time since June thanks to a plan supported by Senator Julie Morrison (D – Deerfield) and signed by the governor. A similar plan to provide nearly $450 million to struggling human service providers, however, has yet to receive a vote in the House.
“Every day that goes by, another provider is that much closer to announcing staff layoffs, service interruptions or even closure,” Morrison said. “I urge the House to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation and pass funding for our human service providers immediately.”
The Senate sent Senate Bill 2047, which passed without opposition, to the House on April 22. The proposal provides nearly $450 million in funding to a host of human service providers, including funding for autism services, sexual assault programs and mental health supportive housing.
“We came together to keep our colleges and universities open. Our human service providers deserve the same action,” Morrison said. “Funding for this plan is available – the money is sitting in an account in a dedicated fund. The state never stopped collecting taxes when the budget impasse began. Distributing these funds to the many agencies providing vital services to Illinoisans must be a top priority.”
Senate Bill 2047 is currently in the House Rules Committee awaiting action.
Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) speaks about two budget measures that passed the Senate today at a Legislative Black Caucus press conference.
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