Little progress was made during
the week on crafting a full-year state budget with economic reforms for
Illinois, even as the clock continues to run on the current compromise stop-gap
budget. The state’s spending authority for a number of programs ends January 1.
Also during the week, Senate and
House legislators questioned
Illinois Department of Human Services officials about abuse and neglect charges
against a group home company.
No progress on budget
Governor Bruce Rauner and legislative
leaders did not meet this week to discuss a full-year spending plan and
necessary economic reforms. It also appears that little was accomplished
during recent meetings of working groups trying to find agreement on workers’
compensation reform and mandate relief for local governments.
“Every day we don’t fix the
budget it gets worse, and we need real reforms that’ll put us on a sound fiscal
path,” said Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont.
“Getting a balanced budget should be our top priority, and I’m ready to meet at
Legislative leaders and the
Governor had been meeting regularly for several weeks, but House Speaker
Michael Madigan has appeared to be using stall tactics and refusing to engage
in meaningful good-faith negotiations, in order to pass yet another stopgap
measure that will lead to an even bigger tax hike without reforms. In
response, Governor Rauner announced December 7 that budget meetings would be suspended
until Democrat legislative leaders submit
their own budget proposal.
Years of irresponsible
tax-and-spend policies by the three prior
administrations have left state government teetering on the edge of a fiscal
cliff. Republican lawmakers will continue to work for a complete and
constitutional state budget – in which spending matches revenue – and essential
economic reforms that will keep businesses and jobs from leaving Illinois.
The following programs are endangered if there is no budget agreement on January 1:
• MAP grants for students relaying on state assistance
• Community Care Program for moderate-income seniors to keep them in their homes instead of nursing homes (just the non-Medicaid portion would be affected. Medicaid portion is covered by court order)
• Community-based addiction treatment
• Community Mental Health
• Prostate Cancer programs at Department of Public Health
• Bullying Prevention
New law to reduce recidivism
A new law signed this week will ensure that any person being released from the Department of Corrections (DOC) or Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) has a valid state identification card upon release, a commonsense act that will help low-level offenders secure employment, housing and establish financial stability.
Senate Bill 3368 requires the Secretary of State to issue a standard Illinois ID card, at the time of their release, to any person being released from the DOC or DJJ who present their birth certificate, Social Security card, or other documents authorized by the Secretary, and two proofs of address. For individuals without these documents, the Secretary of State will issue a limited-term, 90-day ID to released individuals who present a verified document from DOC/DJJ with their name, birth date, Social Security number, and proof of address. They then have 90 days to present this ID at the Secretary of State to receive a standard issue ID.
The new law is a recommendation by the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform convened by the Governor to reduce the state’s current prison population 25 percent by 2025.
Lawmakers question abuse and neglect of disabled residents
On December 13, a Cook County judge ordered Disability Services of Illinois, a group home company whose state license was revoked in November after media reports of abuse and neglect, to release 18 resident adults with disabilities from the company’s care.
in a joint Senate-House hearing questioned Illinois Department of Human
Services (DHS) officials on December 13 about a Chicago Tribune report of hundreds
of cases in which abuse and neglect charges were investigated and cleared by
group home employees.
Republican members of the Senate Human Services Committee, noted that the
Chicago Tribune’s investigation made clear that the problem occurred almost
entirely during the administration of former Governor Pat Quinn. The Senators
had requested that former DHS Secretaries Carol Adams and Michelle Saddler be
asked to present testimony during the hearing. Neither Adams nor Saddler
attended the meeting.
At the hearing, current DHS Secretary Jim Dimas outlined the steps the
department has taken in the last two years to prevent tragic deaths like those
detailed by the Chicago Tribune in November. According to Dimas, who was
appointed by Governor Rauner in May 2015, DHS has instituted more than a dozen
reform measures to ensure proper care of 12,000 adults with intellectual and
Perhaps one of the most important reforms Dimas discussed is one which would
provide the public with some access to previously sealed investigative
files. According to Dimas, DHS is working with the office of the Illinois
Attorney General to provide more information to families and guardians of those
in DHS care.
Cold weather safety tips
With a wave of
bitterly cold temperatures sweeping through Illinois, the Illinois Department
of Public Health (IDPH) reminds people of the health dangers of extreme low
temperatures, such as frostbite and hypothermia, and provides tips about how to
stay warm, as well as information about heating safety. Weathering Winter information can be found on the state’s Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov.