Governor Quinn’s Budget address
Calls for responsible tax reform to cover holes in services for people with disabilities and other underserved communities
Chicago - Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago strongly opposes the FY 2011 Budget announced by Governor Quinn on March 10. A support organization that equips people with disabilities with tools to live independently, Access Living calls on Governor Quinn and the State of Illinois Legislature to introduce comprehensive tax reform.
For people with disabilities served by Access Living, the most dramatic budget line item is Special Education, which is slated to absorb 20% cuts in funding. “The achievement gap between students with disabilities and without disabilities is already staggering,” said Rod Estvan, Access Living’s Education Policy Analyst. “This cut has the potential to deepen the divide and will limit future opportunities for young people with disabilities.”
Overall, the budget fails to adequately support programs that enable people with disabilities, in particular people with developmental disabilities, to live independently in communities rather than in institutions. The budget includes 2.5% in cuts to community-based programs under Department of Human Services Home Services Program
“It’s irresponsible for Illinois to limit any program that supports the choice of people with disabilities to live in their own communities rather than an institution,” said Rahnee Patrick, Access Living’s Director of Programs. “Not only are community-based services limited compared to demand, services in institutions cost more money than services in the community.”
Access Living recognizes that disability is not the only community hurt by the budget. Many other communities will be hurt if the proposed budget is implemented. As a member of the Responsible Budget Coalition, Access Living echoes the coalition’s demand for comprehensive tax reform as a means of addressing Illinois’ long standing budget failures.
“Every year, vital supports for people with disabilities and critical services for the all citizens of the state are at the mercy of budget cuts,” Patrick claimed. “Every year, our communities fight to maintain our independence and to maintain basic services while the Illinois Leaders play a shell game rather than enact true reform.”
The Responsible Budget Coalition, a network of more than 200 organizations, supports a tax increase as outlined in House Bill 174. “Until Illinois adopts a policy that funds vital programs without digging a larger hole,” said Patrick, “the State’s most underserved communities and the community at-large will continue to suffer under Illinois’ budget woes.”
Governed and staffed by a majority of people with disabilities, Access Living is Chicago’s only center for independent living and works toward the full equality, inclusion and empowerment of all people with disabilities. For more information, contact Gary Arnold, Access Living, at 312.640.2199 (voice) or 312.640.2102 (TTY).