Media Coverage of Illinois Budget
Dear Access Living friends and allies,
Yesterday (August 19) was PACKED with new budget developments for people with disabilities in Illinois, so please be sure to scroll through the entire message below so as not to miss anything.
Ligas Court Order Ensures Payments for Developmental Disabilities Services Statewide
On Tuesday of this week, a judge approved a court order filed by Ligas plaintiffs that will ensure that the state must make payments to providers of developmental disabilities services, including in the Home Based Services and Supports (HBSS) Program. To learn more, please read this press statement from Equip for Equality. Kudos to the plaintiffs for fighting for the rights of people with developmental disabilities statewide.
DON Score Legislation Clears State Senate; On to the State House
For those tracking the fight to preserve the Determination of Need (DON) score at 29, yesterday was a banner day as State Senator Daniel Biss led the charge to introduce and pass House Bill 2482 Senate Floor Amendment 1 (HB 2482 SFA 1). This legislation seeks to preserve the DON at 29, just like House Bill 972 House Floor Amendment 1 (HB 972 HFA 1). It was passed with 36 State Senators voting in favor, 11 voting present and 2 voting no (State Senators Righter and Murphy). The voting record may be viewed at this link . This legislation was heard in committee just yesterday afternoon and on the floor a few hours later; kudos to the over 30 advocates who mobilized within one hour to file committee witness slips. A special thanks to those representing Home Services Program workers, SEIU HCII, for making this a priority in the Senate.
We must now turn our attention to passing HB 972 HFA 1, whose main sponsor is State Representative Greg Harris. The State House will return to session on Tuesday of next week; between now and then we urge advocates to contact their House representatives using this easy link . Please take a moment to EDIT the letter at the link to personalize your message; tell why you personally care about home services for people with disabilities and seniors.
State Senate Passes Federal Funds Bill
Yesterday, the State Senate unanimously voted to pass a bill that would allow Illinois to spend around $5 billion in federal funds, even without having a state budget in place. This federal funds bill would be a lifesaver to many programs. Reuters carried the story at this link . The Governor will likely sign this bill. However, some groups have cautioned that this is not a fix-all for all programs, and there are some programs that ONLY get state funding, not federal.
Illinois still does not have a state budget and we have been operating without one since July 1. There is no telling when we will have a budget, and it may not be for months. At this time, court orders and other actions are helping make sure that a lot of payments are being made, but this is not how our state is supposed to operate. As the weeks go by without a budget, agencies or nonprofits that rely on state appropriations to help keep their credit rating up will see problems. Plus, the Chicago Public Schools is hoping for $480 million in state money, and it is not clear whether that will happen. At this time, we have to make sure to keep disability issues front and center with our State, our legislators and our communities. Take heart, because so many committed people have been doing just that.
Remember, always celebrate our victories and progress, no matter how small. Difficult times do pass. Hang in there!
Director of Advocacy, Access Living