Updates from Access Living’s Director of Advocacy

First, this week is the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. As you may know, thousands of people with disabilities suffered due to poor emergency management and many dies. Disability Rights Washington put together the beautiful film The Right to Be Rescued ( see this link ), about the experience of people with disabilities during Katrina. It is well worth 15 minutes of your day.

The state budget crisis continues to play out in court, with many legal advocacy groups involved in trying to ensure that funding streams for key human services programs continue. Of particular significance is the court activity in Ligas v. Norwood, where plaintiffs have been seeking to ensure that state payments continue for developmental disabilities programs statewide. The state has appeared to have made some payments but not all. Some observers wondered whether the judge would find the state in contempt of court, but for now the judge has ordered the state to account for all bills paid and not paid by noon today ( see this link ). Expect to see more news after that.

The Ligas case is expected to ramp up pressure on the Governor and our legislators to create and pass a budget with a plan for increased revenue. Additionally, our State Comptroller Leslie Munger has publicly stated that the state is running out of cash on hand. It is unclear what this means exactly to individual organizations, but nonprofits that expect state payments should monitor the payment process carefully, to say the least. The House will be in session next week and the Senate in session the following week.

The 22 Centers for Independent Living (CILs) statewide are feeling the heat. At latest report our understanding of CILs with furlough days are:

IMPACT CIL: will furlough staff on Fridays starting Nov 1
NICIL: full furlough/closed
SCIL: furloughing on Fridays
Linc, Inc: furloughing 2 days a week
Progress Center: furloughing on Fridays
AIM CIL: has been furloughing on Fridays, will go back to full schedule next week

On Monday at 11 am-12 noon, Progress Center will hold a press conference to highlight how the budget has hurt their staff and consumers. Location: 7521 Madison, Forest Park. Contact: Larry Biondi, (708) 209-1500 ext 24 or lbiondi@progresscil.org .

Next week we expect that the Illinois House will look at voting on House Bill 972 House Floor Amendment 1 (HB 972 HFA 1), which is the DON score legislation. Please urge your legislators once again to vote YES on HB 972 HFA 1! Use this easy link . You can look up the bill status, including the current sponsors, at this link . See also today’s news story on the DON at the Illinois Times .

Finally, for those tracking news coverage of this week’s Access Living advocacy for special education in the Chicago Public Schools, you should visit the stories at Substance News , DNAinfo , the Sun Times , and the Chicago Tribune .