Our Opinion: State plan to help disabled is backward

May 22, 2011

NEWS, Service Cuts

The State Star Journal-Register – May 22, 2011 – www.sj-r.com

Last fall, Gov. Pat Quinn negotiated a deal with the state’s largest public employee union: In exchange for AFSCME members accepting $70 million in health insurance concessions and working with the state to find up to $50 million in additional savings, Quinn pledged no layoffs and no closures of state institutions through July 1, 2012.

We were critical of this deal at the time for strictly financial and political reasons. “Quinn is asking us to trust him as he puts the state’s most effective tool in bargaining for union concessions into storage for the next 22 months,” we wrote.

Today we’re lamenting that pledge once again, though this time on purely human terms.
Among those institutions that Quinn rendered closure-proof are eight state facilities — in Dwight, Anna, Centralia, Dixon, Jacksonville, Kankakee, Park Forest and Waukegan — that house people with developmental disabilities. For years, advocates for the developmentally disabled have tried, with very limited success, to persuade the state to move away from reliance on institutions and toward greater use of residential group homes and community programs for those with developmental disabilities.

At the same time, programs that serve the developmentally disabled and their families have suffered through years of steady cuts to their budgets and long delays in payment from the state. These are organizations like Sparc in Springfield, which operates small group homes, runs programs that provide employment for the developmentally disabled and provides important services to families of children with disabilities.   READ MORE

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