First, we have news for you regarding House Bill 2482, the DON score bill. As of late yesterday, HB 2482 has now been officially sent to Governor Rauner, who has sixty days to sign or veto it. As a reminder, HB 2482 would preserve the minimum eligibility DON score at 29. The State had originally proposed that the score be changed to 37, which would eliminate personal care and home services from 10,000 people with disabilities and 24,000 seniors.
We ask that all of you take a minute to call Governor Rauner’s offices in Chicago and Springfield and ask that he sign HB 2482. You can do this by calling 312-814-2121 or 217-782-0244. Please say that you are concerned about saving home services for people with disabilities and seniors, and you want Governor Rauner to SIGN House Bill 2482 as soon as possible. Please ask others who care about home services to call too.
Another new budget development occurred with the Senate’s passage of Senate Bill 2046 Senate Amendment 1 (see text at this link ). This legislation creates permission (in other words, appropriates) for the State to pay for a variety of services, including funding for Centers for Independent Living and senior home services. While Access Living applauds and supports this bill as it moves to the House for passage, we are still concerned that the Governor and legislative leaders have not arrived at a revenue solution that will allow the state to pay all its bills. This means that even if the bill passes, the State might not actually be able to pay the money. Keep an eye on SB 2046 SA 1 when the House reconvenes on September 24.
As an example of the seriousness of our budget crisis, we have also heard from our friends at Housing Action Illinois that a survey of state-funded homeless service providers found that the state budget impasse has forced, or will soon force, almost all of these nonprofit agencies—90%—to deny assistance to people at-risk of or experiencing homelessness. As you may guess, people with disabilities are a large proportion of people who are homeless. Agencies are having to deny assistance by taking one or more of the following actions: limiting intake of new clients; reducing or eliminating services for current clients; staff layoffs, implementing furlough days or reduced work hours for staff; eliminating programs; and/or closing sites.
Over the next few weeks, we expect that more and more service providers across the state will have to deny services, go on furlough, or close. The need for a real budget solution for our state grows more critical by the week. Please feel free to let Access Living know where budget cuts may be impacting services for people with disabilities. We all need to be the best advocates we can be during these difficult times.