Ticking Clock on State Budget: Disability Advocates, We Need You

Call to Action from Access Living’s Director of Advocacy, regarding State Budget in Illinois. Specifically, the alert addresses cuts to services that support people with disabilities living in the community.

Call to Action:

We have more important news for you about our state budget. Next week, the Illinois legislature will finally send Governor Rauner all the state budget bills, at which point he has three choices. He can approve all of them, or he can approve only parts of them, or he could veto all of them. This is an important moment because Illinois desperately needs a budget agreement by July 1. There is no sign of even a temporary budget, so the situation is critical right now.

All spring, disability advocates (like you!) have worked terribly hard to get the word out about the programs and services that matter to people with disabilities of all ages, from our very smallest newborns to our seniors with disabilities.

We have heard from many legislators that they want to be sure disability programs are funded, programs like home services, paratransit, reduced fare, community mental health supports, respite care and more. We have heard that legislators understand that programs supporting people with disabilities in the community save Illinois money. We have also heard that the Governor’s office and state agency heads understand this as well. Yet we continue to hear that our state’s fiscal situation will force possibly major cuts, and some nonprofit groups have already begun layoffs.

Now it is summer and our dignity, our right to live in the community is at stake. If the Governor decides next week not to fund some or all of the programs that support independent living, the consequences could be very serious. In particular, home services and mental health services are a matter of life or death for thousands of Illinoisans with disabilities. There are many who would rather die than live in a nursing home or institution.

There are also many of us who depend on state programs that assist with items like transportation, wheelchair or scooter repair, and decent health coverage. These help people work, take care of their families, and contribute to their communities. Being able to do this helps us contribute to our state economy and most important, helps us maintain our sense of dignity and worth.

Will we fall victim to a wrecking ball next week? We cannot know for sure, but what we do know is that this week and next, it is more important than ever that you let the Governor’s office know that human services for people with disabilities cannot afford to be cut. Please contact the Governor in at least one of the following ways, and if you did it earlier this week, please do it again!

BY PHONE: Call the Governor’s office in Springfield at 217-782-0244 or in Chicago at 312-814-2121. Let them know your name, what town you live in, and that you want the Governor to not change the DON score for home services statewide, and to make sure there is funding for paratransit and reduced fare rides in the Chicago region.

BY EMAIL: Use this link to send a quick and easy email to the Governor’s office.

BY WEBSITE: You can also contact the Governor’s office through their official online contact form at this link .

We can’t give up. Let’s go Illinois!

Amber Smock,
Director of Advocacy