Friday, July 31, 2009

Update From The Governor

Governor Quinn delivered a press conference this after announcing his plans for the allocation of funds in the budget.

No contracts have been issued to social services agencies as of yet.

The waiting continues.

Click here for the Governor's "final" fiscal year 2010 budget.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Illinois Budget Still Has "Question marks and a hole of as much as $5 billion"

Posted Jul 29, 2009 @ 03:39 PM
Last update Jul 29, 2009 @ 03:57 PM
Look for more details on deep state government budget cuts by the end of the week.

Gov. Pat Quinn told reporters today in Chicago he expects on Friday to release more specifics on what’s included in $1 billion in spending cuts he’s planning to make.

Quinn said he will meet with his Cabinet officials Friday morning and then make those plans public. He already has announced plans to lay off 2,600 state workers and ask workers to take 12 furlough days to deal with a major budget hole, but more details about what else will be cut have been elusive.

Quinn also could talk more then about how he plans to spend more than $1 billion in discretionary money lawmakers gave him to deal with shortages in funding as the year moves along. Education advocates, social service providers and others will be lining up for a piece of that cash to avoid or minimize cuts they’re facing in their programs and services.

Lawmakers and Quinn agreed two weeks ago on a spending plan for the full budget year that still has many question marks and a hole of as much as $5 billion. Quinn insists an income tax increase will be needed eventually to fix the problem, but there might not be enough legislative votes for that to happen until early next year.

The governor said he understands the tough situation he’s in but says he’s “fired up and raring to go” on dealing with the budget problems.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Waiting Game

"We shall never have more time. We have, and always had, all the time there is. No object is served in waiting until next week or even until tomorrow. Keep going... Concentrate on something useful."

---Arnold Bennett (1867 - 1931)

“How much of human life is lost in waiting.”

---Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882)

Some social services agencies received the following communication from DHS yesterday; sadly, while agencies wait to find out if funding will be reinstated, their clients continue to be deprived of services and laid-off employees find other employment. The disruption to the infrastructructure of these agencies and the entire state of Illinois has been immeasurable and will not be forgotten.


Dear Provider,

The Department of Human Services appreciates your support and forbearance as we go through this protracted contracting process. As you know, the state of Illinois now has a budget.

Additional dollars have been identified for the social services which will result in the modification of many of your contracts. We are now in the process of budget revisions with the Office of Management and Budgets and expect to extend new contracts, where indicated, starting next week.

Carol L. Adams, Ph.D.
Department of Human Services

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"There is just no way on Earth that you can call this budget 'balanced'"

We recieved the following communication from Illinois State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (12th District) on Monday, July 20th.


Dear Neighbor,

Over the past few months, numerous plans have been proposed to solve the state's budget crisis, ranging from income tax increases, devastating cuts in state funding for human services, and substantial layoffs. On July 15, 2009 the Illinois General Assembly passed a pitiful excuse for a budget - a haphazard borrowing plan that indiscriminately cuts services and will exacerbate the already grave problems facing the state of Illinois.

My friend Rich Miller, author of the Capitol Fax Blog, said it best in a blog post shortly after budget negotiations ended last week:

"The budget - if you can call it that - which passed the General Assembly yesterday, has as much as a $5 billion hole in it, borrows over $7 billion from Wall Street and state vendors, disguises huge cuts to some private social service agencies with close to 90% funding for others and sets up the state for a surefire disaster next fiscal year.

Break out the party hats.

There is just no way on Earth that you can call this budget "balanced," or serious-minded. It is, at best, a punt until next year. Actually, it's more like a blocked punt with a big loss of yardage."

This is precisely why - for the first time in my 15 years as a lawmaker - I voted against a budget.

It is being (inaccurately) reported that human service providers and grant-funded services will receive 86 percent of their normal funding -- this is patently false. At best, this figure is misleading because it is only an average of the cuts that thousands of providers will face. In reality, while some providers may be fully funded or see their budgets cut by only 5 percent, others will be faced with cuts of 50 percent or more.

Another reason I voted NO was because in this case, the General Assembly completely abdicated its responsibility for passing a line-item budget, leaving these decisions to be made at the Governor's discretion. A lump-sum budget like this is unprecedented in the State of Illinois.
As Chair of the Human Services Appropriations Committee, I understand the need for belt-tightening and know that reasonable cuts were definitely in order, especially given the excess and waste that came to define the Blagojevich administration; however, this lopsided budget will be devastating for the clients of many agencies and community providers, and will result in layoffs and program cuts.

I could not in good conscience support such a jumbled, draconian solution that will further compromise the state's long-term fiscal solvency. It will put Illinois into even further debt and create a budget hole for next year that some predict could top $10 billion. Adding to this, the state has to pay back the borrowed pension funds...with interest.

Illinois has a structural budget deficit that has been growing over the last 10 years. Rather than continuing with financial gimmicks, such as fund sweeps, debt restructuring, sale of assets or more borrowing, we need a comprehensive solution, which includes: 1) spending reforms to restore long-term financial stability, 2) prudent reductions that protect core services, 3) improvements in our budget process for more transparency and accountability, and 4) additional revenues.

Citizens throughout the State are crying out for a responsible budget, and they want leaders who are willing to work together to make the difficult decisions needed to move Illinois beyond its current financial rut. I am eager to work with concerned parties and my colleagues to produce a comprehensive, more responsible solution in the coming months.


Sara Feigenholtz
State Representative
12th District

Monday, July 20, 2009

Families Feel The Pain

While Human Services agencies wait to find out what kind of funding they will receive it is important to continue to communicate with your legislators and the press.

Please take a look at this letter to the editor from yesterday's State Journal-Register:

Funding ‘solution’ will hurt many families

"While Gov. Pat Quinn saved private human service agencies from disaster by vetoing the doomsday budget, most of them will still not receive the funding they require from the new budget to meet the needs of our citizens. By not increasing income taxes, the legislature left the governor with the unenviable task of having to decide which services will receive the heaviest reductions and which will be given barely enough to keep going.

The patchwork funding he was left to deal with is not a permanent answer — it only postpones for a few months the necessary steps we must take to get Illinois back on a firm financial footing. These cuts, coupled with horrendous delays in state reimbursement, will put many community service agencies out of business in the months ahead.

Maybe then, when enough families feel the pain, they will generate pressure on our legislators to do the right thing."

Don Moss
Illinois Human Services Coalition

"State Leaves Disabled In Lurch"

Although a budget has been passed, the damage that has been done to human services agencies in Illinois may be irreversible.

Please take a look at Mark Brown's column in yesterday's Sun Times for a glimpse at how the budget cuts have impacted people with disabilities in Illinois. Mr. Brown tells the story of Tom Morissette of Elmhurst, who was born with Down Syndrome.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

"[A sheltered workshop or community learning center] could involve Tom stuffing envelopes, assembling pens, connecting nuts and bolts, filling Easter baskets or making Christmas ornaments, depending on what contracts the agency has at the time. Once a week, Tom also helps deliver Meals on Wheels to elderly residents, a task he particularly enjoys.

That is, that's what Tom and the others did until a couple of weeks ago, when the Illinois Human Services Department cut off all state grants for such work-training programs in response to the budget stalemate. The Ray Graham Association was forced to close its work program.

Since then, Tom has been stuck at home, mostly watching television or sitting on the porch swing....

Even though legislators passed a budget Wednesday that will presumably restore some of the cuts, agencies like Ray Graham Association are still awaiting word on how they will be affected and when they might resume."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Budget Passed; Human Services Agencies Forced to Compete for Funds

Last night, the Illinois General Assembly and Governor Quinn finally approved a budget for FY 2010, which only funds community agencies at 86% of FY 2009 levels.

The Governor and his agencies will now determine what programs will receive more and less than that percentage of funding. This means that human services agencies will be forced to fight with one another for their fair share of the human services budget.

The University of Chicago School of Law has posted further information about this.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Chaos Reigns Supreme in Springfield; Lawmakers Lounge and Watch Baseball

Please take a look at Doug Finke's article, "Governor, leaders try to avoid chaos" published in The State Journal Register yesterday for an update on the chaos that is not, in fact, being avoided at all.

Meanwhile yesterday, while human services agencies are still unclear of their fate, law-makers rushed to conclude their meetings so that they could attend to a bigger priority: watching the All Star baseball game in St. Louis...

This is an excerpt from Charles Thomas' report for WLS yesterday...

"... dozens of members in both chambers wanted the sessions cut short [on Tuesday] so they could attend the Major League Baseball All Star Game 100 miles south [of Springfield] in St. Louis. No more work on the budget will be done until Wednesday morning, when the leaders return to the governor's office for yet another meeting. Then the House and Senate reconvene in the afternoon, when they might pass a budget."

Finally, we received this communication from the ARC of Illinois this morning detailing the state of things for human services in Illinois as of the morning of July 15th...

We have been talking to the Governor's office, Democrats and Republicans and the news is not good for us in the short term!

I have to tell you that it is really disturbing me that human services is being used to push for increased revenue when legislators should be doing this because it is the right thing to do!

Legislators are right now working on the Governor's proposed budget that will fund us at anywhere from 86% to 90%, depending upon who you are talking too! We expect the legislators to leave it up to the administration to determine what areas of the budget will be cut and this could take some time. New contracts would then be reissued.

Legislators are saying we will get what we need in the long term, but the short term leaves us out in the cold. The proposed budget does not address over $3 billion in backlogged bills!

The new revenue is based upon the state borrowing $3.5 billion, up from $2.2 billion last week.

We need legislators to be our leaders and restore all cuts to human services. We are already an under funded system that cannot afford further cuts. It sounds like the votes are there for this reduced budget. Then we will have to fight for months to restore a system that is already 51st in the nation!

If this is the case, Phil and I have recommended to the Coalition a few weeks ago that we then hold mass hearings across the state with legislators on the impact of these cuts on all of human services.

The Leaders meet with the Governor at 11:00 this morning and legislators go back into session at 1:00. Phil and some other advocates will meet with Senate President Cullerton this morning.

Tony Paulauski
The Arc of Illinois

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

July 14th Legislative Update

Rick Pearson and Ray Long's article in the Chicago Tribune provides information regarding the legislator's meeting today.

Ryan Keith at The State Journal Register informatively reports on all of the numbers involved with the budget crisis.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Last Chance for Humane Legislation

Legislators Go Back To Work On Tuesday

When the legislators go back into session tomorrow, one of three things may happen:

1. The legislators may override the Governor’s veto of their budget and the cuts will stand.
2. A temporary budget may be passed which would restore funding for some or all of the human services programs.
3. A new budget could be worked out between the legislature and the Governor.

Please continue all of your advocacy efforts in one final push to get the legislators to do the right thing.

More Media Coverage of the Cuts

Christina Wright's piece for the Associated Press, "In budget limbo, Ill. agencies begin cutting back" and Phil Kadner's article, "Writer lives in fear he'll wake up and aides won't be there" both discuss the devastating effects that the budget cuts have had on people in Illinois.

Finally, here is a video that explains the results of the cuts on The Neumann Association , a social services agency on the north side of Chicago that serves adults with mental illness and developmental disabilities.

Friday, July 10, 2009

URGENT: Contact Stermer and Quinn and Demand Continuation Contracts

Help Keep The Momentum Going

Governor Quinn’s executive branch directives have begun to address the need to assure that vital governmental functions and community services continue. In addition, Governor Quinn issued a letter to State employees assuring them that despite the absence of a state budget they will be paid. Finally, Quinn’s Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has rescinded all budget cuts and is putting revised continuation contracts on the street.

Please tell the Governor to rescue the children, women, men, families and workers who have been forced onto the street. Due to draconian cuts in Governor Quinn’s Department of Human Services 220,000 children, women, men, and families are being thrown out. The Governor’s office estimates that over 220,000 children, women, men, and families are being thrown out of critical mental health care and substance abuse prevention and treatment services.

Please call the Governor's office and state that you want him to issue continuation contracts to temporarily fund services for people who have no where else to turn.

When we called the Governor's 800 number below, we received no answer. When we called the Governor's Springfield number below we were transferred to the 800 number. When we called the Springfield office again we were put on hold for 5 minutes. Finally, someone answered with "Governor's Office" and when we explained our concerns and interests we were again transferred to the 800 number which rang and rang and rang. When someone finally answered, we were told that there are 3 phones being managed by 1 person right now.

We expressed our concerns and were told that the best number to call is: 217-782-0244 (The Governor's Office of Citizens' Action")

Nonetheless, here is the official contact infor for the Governor...

Governor Quinn’s contact info:

Patrick Quinn
State of Illinois
James R. Thompson Center
Suite 16-100
100 West Randolph
Chicago, IL 60601-3220
800/642- 3112 toll free
312/814-2121 phone


207 Statehouse
Springfield, IL 62706
217/782-6830 phone
217/558-0898 fax

Jerome Stermer’s contact info:

Jerome Stermer
Chief of Staff
Office of the Illinois Governor
James R. Thompson Center
100 W. Randolph, 16-100
Chicago, IL 60601
312/814-2121 phone
312/814-4794 fax


207 State House
Springfield, IL 62706
217/782-0244 phone
217/524-4049 fax

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Progress Illinois

Please take a look at for a geographical breakdown of the cuts including the statistical ramifications that are already in place.

Despite the fact that legislators plan to go back to work on the budget on July 14th, the cuts to social services have already had a tragic effect on people across illinois.

Please call your legislators and tell the following:

1. Restore all cuts to human services.

2. A 10% cut to human services is simply not acceptable when we already rank last among the states in Developmental Disabilities (2009 State of the States Report, David Braddock, Ph.D.).

3. Vote NO to the override of SB 1197, the "doomsday" budget.

4. Vote NO to the override of HB 2145.

5. Vote YES to pass HB 174. This is the income tax increase we parents and advocates support.

It could be your son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter, sister or brother affected by these cuts. Besides the individuals no longer receiving services already, you have put out of work the low income staff that served these individuals. Lost services and lost jobs in the State that ranks 51st are unacceptable. Please do the right thing and pass a humane budget that serves all of Illinois’ citizens.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Those People

Please take a look at this documentary, "Those People" by Alison Flowers featuring Fred Friedman, a self-advocate.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Results of Irresponsible Legislation

While legislators continue to enjoy their summer vacations and the Governor continues to ignore the pleas of the most needy people in his state, agencies have begun the arduous process of laying off employees, denying services and, in some cases, shuttering their doors completely.

This article from yesterday's State Journal Register tells the story of Kamp Kaleidoscope, a summer day camp for developmentally disabled children run by the Springfield Arc, Inc. (SPARC). Due to a 95% cut to their services, Kamp Kaleidoscope closed its doors for the summer "leaving the parents of the 69 participants scrambling for child care."

While parents across the state are desperate to find care for their children, letters to the editors of downstate and Chicago papers continue to pour in.

Please take a look at the following letters from concerned care-givers and citizens alike:

From The Chicago Tribune:
Please raise my income tax
June 29, 2009

Raise my taxes, please!

Illinois legislators must pass an increase in the state income tax to continue funding human services at current levels.

We all know someone who will be devastated by the drastic cuts in human services. Maybe the working, low-income family that will lose the child care assistance that helps pay for quality child care -- or maybe an adult with a developmental disability who is being successfully supported in his community. The Illinois Secretary of Human Services projects that 1 million infants, children and adults will lose services and that 200,000 people in the non-profit community will lose jobs.

My friends and neighbors - all people of modest means - support an income tax increase because we know it's needed.

If legislators do the right thing this week, we will remember them at election time for their political courage.

-Bonnie Dohogne, Evanston

From The Peoria Journal-Star
Forum: State budget needs to look out for the needy and disabled
June 22, 2009

We all know that times are tough and money is short. Illinois lawmakers have once again failed to put a budget together that will meet the needs of the state's citizens. People with disabilities, along with the elderly, poor, children, and those with mental-health needs are the major losers in this ridiculous political showdown.

Everyone has their own theory about the reasons for this disaster, and there's probably plenty of blame to go around. The problems with the Illinois budget are not new. We struggle with the same issues year after year, the lack of revenue and the assurance that what is there will be used thoughtfully. Our legislators are intelligent men and women. They need to forget the political strategies and game-playing and do the jobs to which they were entrusted by their constituents.

People with disabilities and the service providers who support them cannot afford funding cuts! The system is severely underfunded already, as more than 17,000 people with disabilities in Illinois wait to be selected to receive funding for services.
We cannot cut our way out of this budget predicament. New revenue has to be part of the solution, and our lawmakers need to sit down and get to work. No cuts to disability services are acceptable!

-Deb Fornoff, Washington

From The Beacon News
Special-needs children shouldn't be used as political pawns
July 3, 2009

An open letter to Illinois legislators:

As president of the first and largest Special Needs PTA in the state of Illinois, I have been watching very closely the situation surrounding the Illinois budget. I have been bombarded with e-mails from families and agencies that would be affected by these proposed cuts. I have attended Human Services rallies and am still overwhelmed by the number of people in attendance.

As you may know, PTA is the single largest children's advocacy organization in the United States. I feel it is my responsibility and privilege to advocate on behalf of the children and families that will be affected by these cuts. Since our PTA is housed in a school district that, alone, has nearly 4,000 children identified with special needs, these cuts will directly impact every single one of these families.

In our PTA alone, we have children with developmental disabilities, autism, mental disorders, visual impairments, hearing impairments and more. The DHS has been told to eliminate programs for people with developmental disabilities, including autism programs, respite and family assistance programs, and to close the Illinois School for the Deaf and the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired.

Early intervention programs will be eliminated if these cuts take place. If the block grant funding is cut for at-risk kids, the preschool programs for these at-risk kids will no longer exist. The schools won't even be in a position to absorb those supports because the state is already behind in payments to schools.

I'm asking you to go back to Springfield and work as long as necessary to resolve this crisis. Using our children as pawns in these games you are playing and employing scare tactics in an effort to raise taxes is deplorable.

Forget the infamous Illinois politics and put the children and families of our state first for a change. There has to be a compromise somewhere. This state already ranks dead last in services to the disabled. Don't give up on these individuals and their families!

Cutting these services or eliminating them entirely will not balance the budget. Denying special needs families the tools and services they require in order to participate actively, productively and independently in their communities simply cannot be an option worth considering.

-Lori Price, President, Indian Prairie District 204 Special Needs PTA, Aurora

Please take a moment to again contact your legislators and Governor Quinn and tell them they "must not" support the override of Senate Bill 1197. This is the doomsday budget. They should support House Bill 176!

Monday, July 6, 2009

“The General Assembly can afford to live in a state of denial, but human services organizations can’t”

This weekend, while most of the country celebrated the birth of our nation, thousands of people in Illinois were denied needed social services and/or lost their jobs in social services agencies.

This article from Crains Chicago Business by Monée Fields-White points out that while lawmakers are not planning to return to Springfield until mid-July to discuss Governor Quinn's veto of their budget, the fiscal year began on July 1st for most social services organizations. Because these organizations can't afford to gamble in such an unstable economy, they have begun to layoff employees and turn away people seeking services. Here is an excerpt from the article:

“The General Assembly can afford to live in a state of denial, but human services organizations can’t,” said Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, a non-partisan research group in Chicago. “They can’t afford to put off important fiscal decisions for their own organizations while the General Assembly plays politics....(read more)”

Further evidence of Illinois lawmakers' paralysis in the face of budget decisions can be found in a Chicago Tribune editorial from July 4th detailing the "saga" of Howe Developmental Center in Tinley Park. The state operated facility has proven to be not only expensive but dangerousm and yet Governor Quinn has prevented Howe from closing despite a recommendation from the Taxpayer Action Board to close the facility (and the Blagojevich administration's plan to close Howe on July 1st, 2009). State dollars continue to be poured into its operation. Here is an excerpt from the editorial:

This isn't just a budget or safety issue. It's also a matter of quality of life for the disabled. Ten years ago the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states must house the disabled in community based settings rather than in large institutions when it's possible to do so. Community care provides more social contact and better work and education opportunities. (And it's less expensive than large institutions)...

The community care mentioned above, is exactly the kind of services that have been slashed in the current budget.

In August of of 1818, lawmakers stated their reasons for establishing the first Illinois Constitution:

" order to provide for the health, safety and welfare of the people; maintain a representative and orderly government; eliminate poverty and inequality; assure legal, social and economic justice; provide opportunity for the fullest development of the individual; insure domestic tranquility; provide for the common defense; and secure the blessings of freedom and liberty to ourselves and our posterity..."

Please take a moment to call Governor Quinn, Senate President John Cullerton and Speaker of the House Michael Madigan and tell them to come back from their fourth of July vacations, reconvene the General Assembly this week, and do as the founding fathers of our state would have wanted them to do; ask them to protect Illinois' most vulnerable citizens and work together to pass a more humane budget that protects the welfare of their people.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Impact on Clearbrook

The following was information received from Tony Paulauski at the Arc of Illinois:

CLEARBROOK - 25 Staff were terminated July 1st and are no longer working today (July2) ONE WAS MAY SON'S (MITCH WHO HAS AUTISM) MAIN WORKER THAT ALLOWED HIM TO WORK. Now what? He sits all day and has negative behaviors!

80 long term clients did not come to Clearbrook today and were told to stay home! "We can't serve you anymore!!!!" SOME HAVE BEEN SERVED BY CLEARBROOK FOR MORE THAN 25 YEARS! Lost jobs; parent has to stop working to stay home to take care the child with disabilities!

Stop playing politics with our kids' lives. But for the grace of G-d it could be your child or grandchild. You can't cut 5, 6 or 7+ billion. We are 47th/51st already before these cuts. This is a tragedy that could have been avoided. There must be more revenue, a permanent solution.

The blood well flow, literally. Just do what must be done. have a conscience. just do the right thing. this time, those that DON'T vote for a tax increase will be the ones we will not support financially or with votes. You have forced, you have motivated families who were never active in campaigns to become extremely vocal.

Brian Rubin

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Those who rely on state funding are left in limbo.

News from The Southern Springfield Bureau

Quinn: Social services that continue service risk not being paid for it

BY KURT ERICKSON, The Southern Springfield Bureau
July 1, 2009

SPRINGFIELD -- It likely will be at least two weeks before Illinois gets a budget on the books.

Under a game plan that began emerging Wednesday, lawmakers will be called back to town July 14 to try and find some resolution to the stalemate that has left the state without a spending plan for the fiscal year that began July 1.

Members of the House and Senate left the Capitol Tuesday without approving an income tax hike. Without the added revenue, Gov. Pat Quinn said he would veto the budget sent to him by lawmakers in May because it doesn’t contain an enough money to keep state programs afloat for a full year.

Quinn was expected to issue his veto message Wednesday afternoon.

The impasse left many who rely on state funding in limbo. Quinn said social service agencies and others who provide services "do so at the risk of not being paid."

The effect on other state services may be virtually unnoticeable for at least a few more weeks. The first round of state worker paychecks for July doesn’t go out until the middle of the month.

"Until a budget is in place, the state has very limited authority to pay its vendors and grantees," Quinn noted in a statement issued Wednesday morning. "The state, however, will continue to operate and provide essential services to protect the health, safety, and welfare of Illinois citizens, such as maintaining prisons and providing emergency services and legally-required social services."

Quinn wants lawmakers to approve a 50 percent boost in the income tax rate as a way to generate an estimated $4 billion.

That revenue would help fill a budget deficit of $11.6 billion.

Lawmakers who have balked at an income tax hike said Quinn needs to show he’s ready to negotiate in good faith.

For example, state Rep. Bob Flider, D-Mount Zion, said Quinn should sign legislation enacting a statewide construction program because the added jobs could jumpstart the economy.

"He’s put all his marbles in the tax increase basket," Flider said.

Although Quinn could call lawmakers into session before July 14, legislative leaders say that date was set aside after they surveyed members to determine when they all would be available to resume negotiations.

“People want to know where they stand, right?”

People want to know where they stand, right?

According to Rep. Susan Mendoza, D-Chicago, Right now, you know where they stand? Under the bus.”