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|More Closed Social Service Facilities If No Budget
|Scare tactic or not, the state says it's making plans to close three major residential facilities for the disabled - unless the General Assembly passes a budget that can pay for them.
A spokesman for the governor's office says the Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education's Roosevelt location in Chicago would close, as would the Illinois School for the Deaf in Jacksonville and the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired, also in Jacksonville.
The Quinn administration says the planned closures are merely consequences of the legislature failing to pass a full budget. Jacksonville resident Lonnie Johns sees it otherwise, claiming the financial situation is an excuse to advance what he describes as a hidden agenda to put disabled people into the mainstream.
Tom Green, spokesman for the state's Department of Human Services, says Johns is incorrect; that the state "recognizes the positive impact these three schools have on the lifetime productivity of the students who attend." And the governor's spokeswoman, Katie Ridgway, points out full funding for the schools was in Quinn's proposed budget three months ago.
Green anticipates a three-month process in shutting down the facilities, saving $18 million.
ISD has 286 students. ISVI has 114 students. ICRE Roosevelt has 41 residents.
State Sen. Deanna Demuzio (D-Carlinville), whose district includes the Jacksonville area, says the last few years of turmoil at the Capitol have probably desensitized the general public to the current budget crisis: "We probably have not done a really good job in educating the public and our constituencies in terms of how severe it is," she says.
State Rep. Jim Watson (R-Jacksonville) has a differing viewpoint, calling the budget crisis a failure of Democratic leadership and adding the disabled are being treated as "pawns" to push a tax increase without allowing for negotiation. "This isn't Iraq, where you say, "Vote with us or else," he says.
(Illinois Radio Network)
|06 16 09 by Newsroom
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