FROM: Roberta Lynch, Executive Director – Council 31 AFSCME
RE: Budget Crisis and Care Campaign – Action Needed
Like you, I am very concerned about what may happen to services for individuals with developmental disabilities given our current budget crisis. The cuts proposed in the FY 16 budget make it difficult to focus on the need for increasing wages for DSPs. But as we hear from many agency heads, the improving economy is making it difficult to fill DSP positions at current wages. That fact and minimum wage increases like the one in Chicago make focusing on DSP wages vital.
We are asking AFSCME members to contact lawmakers to oppose cuts to services for individuals with developmental disabilities, support raising new revenues needed to balance the budget, and advocate for an increase in DSP wages. We have also suggested that, where feasible, our local union officers visit lawmakers in their district offices or invite them to visit the agency. We have encouraged them to reach out and work with you and your management team to make this grassroots lobbying effort as effective as possible.
We would appreciate your cooperation in this endeavor.
One of my fears is that people will return to work today after a holiday break only to learn their services have been slashed or they are out of work.
At this point only the 23 grants have been suspended, but additional suspensions are possible and it is my understanding the 2.5% cuts may come into play.
I will seek further clarifications today, but Friday was a sad day here in Illinois. We had all believed that the Legislative Leaders had agreed upon a budget for the remainder of this fiscal year that the Governor had signed into law.
A very sad day indeed.
I would urge you to call your legislators and the Governor expressing your outrage about the elimination of important human services including the cuts to services such as the Life Span Program, The Autism Program and others.
Office of the Governor
Rockford REX News story below. Looks like some of the numbers are incorrect
A number of state and local organizations have been told to stop spending any further grant money by Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Rauner’s office has released an updated list of programs affected, now including the amount of grant funding that’s been suspended for each.
A total of 23 grantfunded organizations serving Illinois received a letter on Friday from the Department of Human Services telling them to “immediately cease incurring additional obligations, costs or spending any further grant funds until further notice.”
This means that any services already paid for by the groups can move forward, but if there are funds remaining in the accounts after the services have been paid for, that money will be returned to the state.
Roughly $26 million total has been suspended between the Department of Human Services and Department of Public Health for Fiscal Year 2015.
DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES
— Funeral & Burial, $6.9 million
— Immigrant Integration Services, $3.4 million
— Welcoming Centers, $191,300
— ARC Lifespan, $472,100
— Best Buddies, $250,000
— Autism, $4.3 million
— Group Home Loans, $20,000
— Compulsive Gambling, $406,000
— Westside Health, $94,200
— Addiction Prevention, $1.6 million
— Assistance for Homeless, $300,000
— Community Services, $2 million
— Teen REACH, $3.1 million
— Coalition F/Tech AssistChild, $250,000
— For Children’s Health Program, $231,600
— Outreach to Individuals to Engage in Services, $380,700
— Regions Special Consumer Support, $277,700
— SMRF Training, $420,100
— Transportation, $43,900
— DD Latino Outreach, $87,500
— Microboard Development and Outreach, $47,500
— Epilepsy, $514,700
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH
— Brothers and Sisters United Against HIV/AIDS, $789,800
— Increasing Access to Health CareWellness on Wheels, $180,000
— Wellness on Wheels Mobile Administration 2015, $135,000
— Illinois Tobacco Quitline, $3.1 million
— Project Safe Sleep Education and Outreach, $250,000
— MidAmerica Regional Public Health Leadership Institute, $75,000
The governor’s office sent a response to 13 News saying “part of the solution to solving the inherited $1.6 billion budget hole without raising taxes or increasing borrowing is to continue to evaluate the current fiscal year’s budget. The governor’s office worked with agencies to see which grants could be suspended without impacting essential services.”
There are a number of local programs that are impacted by the cuts including The Epilepsy Foundation of North Central Illinois and The Autism Program of Illinois.
The Epilepsy Foundation of North/Central Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska responded by saying:
“The suspension of grant funding for epilepsy, autism, developmental disabilities, and mental health programs is devastating to the individuals that rely on these services to receive effective medical treatment and care. These programs are designed to keep individuals out of the emergency room, employed, in school, and save the state millions of dollars in healthcare and disability costs.
Elimination of these programs will only put individuals out of work, increase costs to state run medical care programs, and endanger the lives and wellbeing of hundreds of thousands Illinoisans living with developmental disabilities and mental health issues.”
The Autism Program of Illinois responded by saying: “We are shocked and saddened by the decision of the Governor and the Department of Human Services to eliminate TAP funding for the current fiscal year, particularly when a budget agreement was passed by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor. The four universities and 13 nonprofit organizations in the TAP network provide critically needed services for Illinois families which are often available from no other source. The TAP network has brought more than $34 million in nonstate grants into our state and helps the state save money when compared to more expensive services later in life.”
SPRINGFIELD — A coalition of advocates for the developmentally disabled is calling for the eventual closure of six of seven of the state’s residential centers.
The Going Home coalition is not proposing legislation this session and it’s not saying which of the existing centers should remain open.
Illinois’ seven centers for the developmentally disabled are Choate Mental Health & Developmental Center in Anna, and centers in Centralia, Dwight, Dixon, Kankakee, Park Forest and Waukegan.
Since 2001, the state has closed centers in Lincoln, Tinley Park and Jacksonville.
The seven remaining Illinois centers employ a total of roughly 3,600 people, most of them represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which has opposed facility closures in the past. An AFSCME Council 31 spokesman declined to comment for this story.
The coalition’s proposal is not without opponents and, in fact, reveals a divide in the community of developmentally disabled people and their families.
Going Home says community-based care can provide a better quality of living for the 1,730 people now in state-operated centers.
And, it says, community caregivers can do the job not only better, but cheaper.
The coalition says Illinois is spending about $429 million annually to serve state center residents. It says community-based caregivers can do that job equally well or better for about $92 million per year.
“Illinois is facing a major budget crisis. This is a unique opportunity to save the state significant money,” said Cheryl Jansen, legislative director of Equip for Equality, one of the coalition members.
Further, the coalition says, Illinois is following an antiquated care or service model that warehouses individuals.
It cites Illinois’s status as the state with the third-most people in residential care, behind only New York and Texas.
At the same time, the coalition says, Illinois ranks 47th in the country when it comes to providing funding for community living for the developmentally disabled.
“They may have said they want to close six, but they want to close all of them,” said Rita Burke, president of Illinois League of Advocates for the Developmentally Disabled, or IL-ADD.
Burke, the parent of an adult resident of Choate Mental Health Center in Anna, said her organization doesn’t agree that every resident of the state’s centers can survive, let alone thrive, outside the centers.
Her group includes many officers of the parents associations of the seven remaining state centers, and those parents groups do not support mass or sudden closures.
She argues the cost savings cited by Going Home is vastly oversimplified and does not adequately address care for individuals with extraordinary medical needs.
And considering Illinois is ranked 47th in the state in terms of support for community-based care, what makes anyone think it will suddenly be ready to transfer 1,700 people to community care, she asked.
Tony Paulauski, executive director of The Arc of Illinois, said Illinois is still warehousing the developmentally disabled and must transition to community-based care.
Fourteen states currently have no state centers and 35 states have 500 or fewer people living in state-operated centers, he said.
State Rep. Charles Meier, R-Okawville, is a passionate defender of the Murray Center in Centralia, which the Quinn administration tried to close.
For now, at least, the Murray Center remains open.
But he says some of the initial transfers out were badly handled and, in fact, put people in settings that met their needs far less successfully than the state center did.
“People have the right to decide where they want to live, “ he said, and many state residents— and their parents or guardians — believe they have do have good lives and wish to remain in the state centers.
He says rushing to close centers is a poor idea, and the state will “certainly need more than one,” given both the state’s physical size and its population.
Meier and many parents point to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead vs. L.C., saying they say the residents of the state centers have a right to choose to remain where they are.
In that case, two residents of a Georgia state facility sued to prevent being inappropriately treated and housed in the institutional setting.
The court ruled that individuals are entitled to treatment in the most integrated setting possible as determined on case-by-case basis, and it said that in some cases that might include institutions. The court held transfers must meet three criteria:
• The new setting is appropriate according to state treatment professionals.
• The new setting is not opposed by the resident and is less restrictive than the state institution.
• The transfer can be reasonably accommodated given the resources of the state.
The court also said there is no federal requirement that community-based treatment be imposed.
Illinois News Network reporter Greg Bishop contributed to this story.
The Illinois News Network is a reporting service that shines a light on public policies that affect the residents of Illinois. It is a project of the Illinois Policy Institute.
By Sara Burnett 150310
The Associated Press
CHICAGO — The Democratic leader of the Illinois Senate on Monday called Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed state budget “as unworkable as it is unconscionable,” suggesting the Republican try again to draft a balanced spending plan that doesn’t disproportionately hurt people who are struggling to get ahead.
Senate President John Cullerton also said he and Rauner remain far from finding a way to fund state programs that already are running out of money, despite the governor’s repeated assurances that a deal is “days away.”
“I’m not looking to start a fight with our new governor. I want to work with him,” Cullerton said during a speech in his hometown of Chicago. “But I don’t work for him, and his budget doesn’t work for Illinois.”
Cullerton’s comments were another clear indication of how difficult it will be for Rauner and the Democrat-controlled legislature to find common ground on two budget fronts, with the two sides even disagreeing over whether negotiations have taken place at all.
Cullerton complained Rauner hasn’t invited him and other legislative leaders to sit down and discuss the issue, while Rauner spokesman Lance Trover said Cullerton has met repeatedly with the governor and has had “every opportunity” to discuss any topic he wants.
“It’s unclear why President Cullerton seems intent on undermining a bipartisan agreement to clean up the fiscal mess that Senate Democrats created,” Trover said.
The current fiscal year’s budget is short about $1.6 billion, due to Democrats approving a spending plan prior to the November election that didn’t include enough money to cover expenses. They had hoped to return after the election to pass an extension of a temporary income tax increase that was scheduled to roll back on Jan. 1, but Rauner’s win over Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn put that plan on hold.
Rauner has repeatedly said that raising taxes isn’t the answer and will hurt economic growth. He says the state must first fix “structural issues,” such as too much government bureaucracy and a too-cozy relationship between unions and legislators.
He wants legislators to give him broad authority to move money from special state funds to plug the hole in this year’s budget, but Senate Democrats have been reluctant to do so.
Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, said the Chicago Democrat believes it will be easier to get House approval for a spending fix if Rauner lays out where he would cut and which funds he would take money from to make up for shortages. Among the programs that already have run out of money is one that subsidizes day care for low-income residents.
Rauner’s proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 — when Illinois faces a more than $6 billion shortfall — would cut more than $1 billion from Medicaid, slash in half the amount of tax revenue the state directs to municipalities, and reduce funding on everything from higher education to public transportation.
– See more at: http://www.sj-r.com/article/20150309/NEWS/150309458/1999/NEWS#sthash.IqgmgIeb.dpuf
Rauner contends that spending deal is imminent; top Democrats say otherwise
By Kim Geiger Tribune reporter – 3/2/2015
More than a week after Gov. Bruce Rauner declared he was “literally days away” from a solution to the $1.6 billion shortfall in this year’s budget, the governor insisted Friday that he and Democrats are “very close” to a deal.
“We’ll get it done,” Rauner said after delivering a speech to business leaders in Chicago. “The critical thing … is that we don’t raise taxes because of this and that we don’t do borrowing because of this, we just reallocate.”
By that, Rauner means he wants to take money from some programs to pay for others on the verge of going broke. But doing so requires cooperation from Democrats, some of whom say the Republican governor hasn’t done enough to persuade them to get behind his plan.
A key sticking point is what Democrats describe as a lack of specifics.
“We still need more information,” said Rikeesha Phelon, spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton, D Chicago. “There certainly have been conversations, but we’re still trying to mine out relevant information.”
Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, said the governor has yet to offer up legislation to spell out which programs he plans to raid or cut to solve the shortfall.
“I think the easiest thing to do is for the governor to be specific,” Brown said. “We haven’t seen a full bill.”
Rauner insisted all week that negotiations were progressing and a deal was “close.” It’s a familiar refrain from the rookie governor, who as a candidate had a habit of batting back reporters’ questions about when he would offer specific proposals with promises of answers “soon” and “in due time.”
Timing for the deal was better before last week’s budget address, when Rauner laid out his agenda for sweeping cuts to programs favored by Democrats, Phelon said.
It was during that speech that Rauner said a deal on the current budget crisis was imminent. Madigan agreed at the time.
Negotiations appear to have stalled.
“Once (Democrats) got a picture of how he intends to manage and how he intends to prioritize, that just made it harder for them to grant him a blank check or to grant him expanded authority to do the same thing in this current year,” Phelon said.
A partial rollback of the temporary tax hike meant a projected drop of $4 billion in revenue that could have helped cover the shortfall, which threatens to cut off payroll for prison guards and court reporters, as well as funding for other programs.
Already, state funding for a popular subsidized day care program has run out. Without more money, the options are to cut program spending, move money around between programs, or borrow.
On Friday, Rauner suggested that Democrats were trying “to take advantage of the cash flow crisis to try to force a tax hike.”
January 16, 2015 1:36 pm • Kurt Erickson Times Bureau
SPRINGFIELD — Although Gov. Bruce Rauner may try to reverse it, a last-minute maneuver by former Gov. Pat Quinn to boost the minimum wage could have wide-ranging effects across the state.
UPDATE: Governor Rauner announced late Friday that he has rescinded this and many other recent Quinn executive orders.
In the final minutes before he left office Monday, Quinn issued an executive order requiring a $10-an-hour minimum wage for all vendors and state contractors.
That could mean everyone from a dishwasher at one of the state’s privately operated park lodges to a teenager hired to staff the canoe rental booth at a state park could see a raise from the current minimum wage of $8.25 an hour.
It also could mean raises for entry-level workers who provide assistance to the elderly and disabled through various nonprofit organizations that are paid by the state.
At the ARC of Illinois, which represents a coalition of organizations serving developmentally disabled residents, the higher wage could be a mixed blessing, Executive Director Tony Paulauski said.
On one hand, it could help lure new workers in a competitive labor pool. By contrast, it will cost the groups more to do business, he said.
That’s why Paulauski and others are working with lawmakers to try to boost the reimbursement rates organization receive from the state to offset the higher wage.
Don Moss, executive director of United Cerebral Palsy of Illinois, said the higher costs could be a final straw for some vendors.
“To impose this added financial burden without increasing the rates would be a severe blow to the system,” Moss said.
Mary McGlauchlen, associate director of Central Illinois Service Access, said some of the providers could face serious financial hardship.
“For some of them, it could put them out of business,” she said Friday.
Quinn’s action came after he failed to convince the Illinois House to join with the Senate to raise the minimum wage for all state residents, even after Illinois voters approved an advisory referendum in November calling for an increase in the minimum wage.
Quinn’s move mirrored one by President Barack Obama, who took executive action to boost the minimum wage for federal contractors.
The governor’s action affects only pending or new contracts with vendors.
Republican Bruce Rauner, who took over as governor on Monday, said he is considering rescinding his Democratic counterpart’s move, which was among a flurry of 11th-hour actions Quinn took before his term ended.
“My bias is to take action to undue pretty much everything that Governor Quinn did since the election,” Rauner told reporters earlier this week. “Every time we look, most of it’s bad.”
Rauner offered no timetable for a decision.
“We’ll deal with that in due course,” Rauner said.
Thanks to Tony Paulauski of The Arc of Illinois – from the Southtown Star
Cutting the fat out of the state budget is likely to mean cutting programs that help the homeless, battered women and the developmentally disabled.
When Gov. Bruce Rauner talked about freezing nonessential state spending in his inaugural address, the people heading social service agencies across the state understood that likely meant that their budgets are going to take a hit.
“We’ve been concerned since Jan. 1 since the (state) income tax increase rollback,” said Julie Dworkin, director of policy for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.
One program likely to lose funding is homeless youth prevention, Dworkin said, which is not mandated by state law or court order.
The state provides millions of dollars for emergency shelters and transitional housing for children, allowing them to remain in school, keep their jobs or seek employment from a stable environment. Dworkin said her agency provides assistance for about 2,500 homeless youths in the Chicago area.
A study by the coalition last year revealed that there were 22,144 homeless students in the Chicago Public Schools, an increase of 18.6 percent over 2012. Of that number, 98 percent were minority children, and 20 percent were diagnosed with disabilities or developmental delays.
Tony Paulauski, executive director of The Arc of Illinois, which advocates on behalf of thousands of disabled people and families in Illinois, said budget cuts could have an impact on group homes and community services for the disabled, as well as respite care for the families of the disabled.
“By respite care, we’re talking about workers who come to a home a few hours a day so that the primary caregiver of a severely disabled adult or child can go to the grocery store and buy food or just take a break from caring for a family member,” Paulauski said.
“That’s not a state mandate. But it is an essential program to allow people to continue caring for family members in their homes, which is far less expensive than putting them in a state institution or nursing home,” he said. “Of course, we’re concerned about any freeze on spending because of the state about to lose billions of dollars in revenue due to the income tax rollback.
“Many of our service providers are going to either lay people off or go out of business if the state cuts spending to them. This is going to result in a cut of the safety net for people who are trying their best to help disabled family members.”
Thresholds, a private service provider that assists more than 7,000 severely mentally ill people in Cook, McHenry and Kankakee counties, is another agency sweating out Rauner’s budget decisions.
“(Illinois House) Speaker Michael Madigan has projected a $5.7 billion revenue shortfall in fiscal 2016 if the income tax increase is not restored or other revenue created,” said Heather O’Donnell, vice president of public policy and advocacy for Thresholds. “We already suffered a funding cut for mental health of $117 million between fiscal years 2009 and 2013.”
She said it costs the state $10,243 a year to provide community-based care to a seriously mentally ill person as opposed to $31,400 in a nursing home or $69,359 at the Cook County Jail.
“And that’s where people end up when you cut funding to community-based mental health programs,” O’Donnell said. “They end up in jail. They end up homeless. They end up in nursing homes. They end up cycling repeatedly through hospitals, costing the state millions of dollars more than it would have cost to provide community-based treatment.
“With treatment and counseling,we know these people are capable of leading productive normal lives,” she said. “… So our hope is that Gov. Rauner will … find a way of increasing the state’s revenue, either by restoring the income tax increase or through some other method.
“The state doesn’t have enough money to adequately fund social service agencies right now. And people should remember that we’re businesses, not-for-profit businesses but businesses, that provide employment to people. We are not some bloated agency of the state.”
Vickie Smith, executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said organizations that operate battered women’s shelters throughout the state are also anxiously awaiting word on what a budget freeze would mean to them.
“As you can imagine, the cuts could be pretty devastating to our members,” Smith said, referring to 52 domestic violence shelters in Illinois. “It’s been in the news about the potential loss of funds, but we don’t know what to expect.
“It’s not just about the shelters but social service providers that work with us to offer assistance in housing, counseling, substance abuse programs, which are all interconnected when it come to domestic violence.”
Each of the organizations I’ve mentioned is busy lobbying local legislators to retain their funding, but each knows that will likely be impossible unless the state income tax increase is restored.
There’s simply no other source of revenue that could generate the roughly $4 billion a year the higher income tax provided.
And officials of several organizations noted that the state is going to run out of money in its current budget before the new fiscal year begins in June.
I know why people voted for Rauner and reform. They’re tired of corruption and wasteful spending by state government.
But it’s not the fat-cat politicians and their buddies that are likely to take the hit.
It’s abused women and children, the mentally ill, the physically disabled and the homeless.
And these people are not just going to vanish.
There will be a cost if funds for these programs are further cut, both in cash and human lives.
Rauner talked in his inaugural speech about a shared sacrifice. But you know who is really going to feel the pain.
News From The Arc of Illinois
Minimum wage, from the Care Campaign, Senator Hunter Wednesday, filed Senate Bill 12 which “provides that when recalculating rate and reimbursement methodologies, the Departments shall account for (i) mandated increases in the State minimum wage rate; and (ii) any increased payroll taxes required of providers or vendors contracting with the Departments. Provides that the Departments must fully fund recalculated rate and reimbursement methodologies.”
You are going to want your Senators to become Co-Sponsors of Senate Bill 12.
Learn about The Care Campaign in this radio interview with
Trinity Services CEO, Art Dykstra. Courtesy WMAY Radio
Governor Quinn got the message as we delivered and mailed
over 18,000 Care Campaign Cards to his office!
Welcome to The Care Campaign, a coalition of service providers, direct support workers and their unions, associations and individuals formed in January 2013 to raise wages of direct care workers in Illinois.
We hope you’ll join us to help win a living wage for the dedicated people who support those with developmental disabilities. This is important quality of life work performed by women and men who work hard caring for some of the most vulnerable of our fellow citizens.
How you can help:
- Sign the petition!
- Right click to – Download PDF, Print & Circulate Wages Fact Sheet
- Read about The Care Campaign’s launch in Springfield with Senate and House Hearings and Lobby Days.
- Like us on Facebook & Share our messages
Why The Care Campaign?
The Care Campaign is a historic coming together of providers, associations, workers and their unions, parents, administrators, caregivers, people with disabilities, and other Illinois citizens. Never before have so many concerned groups and individuals come together around this important issue. We are concerned and we are committed to making a difference for the thousands of direct service professionals in Illinois who tirelessly work to care for our fellow citizens with developmental and other disabilities.
In Illinois there are some 24,000 individuals with developmental disabilities supported in community settings. The problem is that many of the direct support employees who provide that support don’t earn enough to even support their own families. We don’t believe that it is right to pay so little for people who give so much.
Direct support workers in Illinois earn wages below the poverty level.
A recent IARF (Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities) salary survey pegged the average direct support wage in Illinois at $9.35 per hour. That’s 21% below the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services poverty threshold of $11.32 for a family of four. This largely female workforce is often forced to work many overtime hours or even hold down a second job just to make ends meet. Many of these workers and their families have to fall back on public benefits such as Medicaid and food stamps, creating additional expenditures for state government. See the Arc of Illinois Position Paper on (DSPs) Direct Support Professionals
No Cost of Doing Business Increase for community providers since 2007.
Low wages are a consequence of the historically low reimbursement rates for community services. According to the State of the States in Developmental Disabilities report, Illinois ranks 41st of 50 in fiscal effort for these services. The General Assembly has not awarded a Cost of Doing Business Increase to community developmental disability agencies since 2007. Over the last 10 fiscal years, increases in state funding to these agencies have averaged less than 1% per year, for a total of 9.5%. By contrast, the CPI (Consumer Price Index) increased 23% over the same period. Community agencies were forced to cover increases in health insurance, fuel, and other costs from the small rate increases, while wages fell even further behind.
Low pay drives high staff turnover.
The lack of adequate wages for employees who perform the challenging work of supporting individuals with disabilities results in high employee turnover, which in turn, negatively impacts the quality of services provided. In 2008, the ARC of the United States documented annual turnover rates among direct support staff of 35% to 70%. According to a 2007 study, the national turnover rate averages 50% (Hewitt and Larson, 2007). Higher wages are proven to reduce staff turnover, improving stability and quality of services while reducing employer training costs.
The Care Campaign solution.
The Care Campaign proposes increases in reimbursement rates linked directly to increases in direct support staff wages. The goal is to increase those wages to $13 at minimum. To achieve this goal, The Care Campaign supports Senate Bill 2604, sponsored by Senators Heather Steans and Mattie Hunter, Daniel Biss, Julie Morrison and House Bill 3698, sponsored by Representatives Robyn Gabel, Lawrence M. Walsh, Jr., Emanuel Chris Welch, and Laura Fine.
This goal is a modest increase for an individual worker but significant for retaining a quality workforce to serve those with disabilities, helping to reduce turnover and providing a more consistent and supportive environment for those we serve. It will reduce reliance on public benefits such as food stamps and Medicaid while enhancing dignity and self-worth for the thousands who annually go over and above every day of the year to provide exceptional personal services to make life better for people with developmental disabilities.
You can help by signing the petition and spreading the word by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter. Stand with The Care Campaign to show that the citizens of Illinois care about those with disabilities and want a living wage for those who daily work to make life better for them.