A Message on the Inauguration of the 100th Illinois General Assembly

Today, Wednesday January 11, marks the inauguration of the 100th Illinois General Assembly. There are new names and faces in both Houses of our state legislature, and new opportunities for advocacy to make Illinois a better place for people with disabilities to live, and thrive. Access Living welcomes these new lawmakers warmly, as well as all of the incumbents who won re-election in November. We look forward to working with all of them over the next two years.

All that said, it is clear that our state is at a critical juncture. Partisan struggle and gridlock has led to the unprecedented situation of Illinois operating under a budget for only 6 out of the last 24 months. As of January 1, we are again without a budget and the slowly unfolding disaster of funding loss to human services, healthcare, higher education, and other vital programs continues. Illinois' budget deficit has only widened in the meantime, as a lack of definitive action by the Governor and the General Assembly to shore up our state's long-term finances means that money continues to be spent because of various court orders, consent decrees, and other automatic spending at a rate that far outstrips our incoming revenue.

There are again signs that a "grand bargain" to produce a solid, balanced budget including adequate revenue and other structural reforms may be at hand. We certainly hope that a deal can be struck soon, so that the bleeding felt by agencies serving the disability community and so many others can be stopped and eventually healed. We urge all members - especially Democratic and Republican leadership - of the 100th General Assembly, Governor Rauner and his staff, and all department heads who have a hand in shaping the state budget to come together at this time, set aside politics, and pass a budget that fully funds the infrastructure that gives all Illinoisans, including those with disabilities, a chance to live independent and prosperous lives. Our community is watching, and waiting.

Thanks for all you do,

Adam Ballard
Manager of Organizing and Policy
Access Living