Hundreds of people with disabilities and their families protested policy makers at the proposed cuts to community based disability programs on Tuesday, May 24 at the James R. Thompson Center. Reductions in services that help the disabled population remain in their home communities could be cut by more than $77 million and several critical programs are slated to be eliminated. Advocates delivered petitions with more than 6,200 signatures to Governor Quinn, Senate President John Cullerton, Senate Minority Leader Christine Rodogno, House Speaker Michael Madigan and House Minority Leader Tom Cross.
Advocates are worried that once the three budget proposals are reconciled the cuts will deepen. Governor Quinn along with the Illinois House and Senate have presented their own budgets with little coordination on how these reductions to community disability programs will truly impact the more than 220,000 children and adults living with disabilities and their families. The Governor’s budget and the House budget will have the most severe impact by eliminating critical programs like the Family Assistance Program, UIC Family Clinic, and UIC Assistive Technology Unit along with SIU Telemed, Dental, Epilepsy and Respite Grants. They reduce the Children’s and Adults Home-Based Support Services allotment by 10 percent and cut rates for community services by six percent, making the state ineligible for the 50 percent federal match totaling $31.15 million. The House budget cuts $77.7 million from community disability programs. Advocates warn that these cuts will deconstruct the already fragile disability system, leaving people with nowhere to turn, in some cases homeless, and forcing many service providers to close. To read how advocates identified ways for the state to better prioritize its spending, visit www.thearcofil.org.