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Letters

Letter: State needs to fund services for people with disabilities

To the Editor:

For decades Illinois citizens have been making great strides with the support of social service agencies. The opportunities available to them today are a meaningful mark of progress, and very fitting as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Nevertheless, there are significant challenges, most resting squarely on the shoulders of our elected officials in Springfield.

The budget impasse in Springfield threatens the very services that people with disabilities rely on. Every day this stalemate goes unresolved social service agencies struggle to keep their doors open. Agencies sign contracts with the state to provide valuable community-based services, and that’s what they continue to do – even though payments are not being processed for state-funded grant programs. To not reimburse these organizations because the General Assembly and the governor can’t agree on fiscal details is unfair and creates a hardship for agencies, their employees, and the people who depend on them.

Disability service providers are performing the jobs asked of them by the state. The fact that there is no longer an operating budget is not their fault, but it affects people, programs, and providers, and may soon leave some organizations in financial ruin. When organizations start shutting their doors, where will these people go?

Balancing the state budget is certainly not an easy task. But the General Assembly and Gov. Bruce Rauner have a responsibility to get this done. It’s why they were sent there in the first place.   

Senate Bill 2046 appropriates funds for the Illinois Department of Human Services and other agencies. Its passage would be a positive indicator that our elected officials are committed to human services and the people who rely on them. We strongly encourage disability advocates across the state to contact their state representatives and ask them to vote “Yes” on SB2046.

Debra Condotti

Easter Seal Joliet Region

Art Dykstra

Trinity Services

Jennifer Gabrenya

Center for Disability Services

Ben Stortz

Cornerstone Services

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