Posts Tagged ‘Chester Mental Health’

The IL legislature is sending IL Governor Pat Quinn a 2012 budget which includes funding to continue operation of all the facilities which Quinn proposed closing in order to save the State money. The Pantagraph article below summarizes the situation:

Budget keeps facilities open, but layoffs come anyway

“…The layoffs come as lawmakers gave Quinn enough money to avoid closing prisons in Dwight and Tamms, a youth prison in Murphysboro, the Murray Developmental Center in Centralia and adult transition centers in Decatur and Carbondale.

The proposed budget also provides more than $26 million to convert the prison at Tamms into a medium- or minimum-security facility to address concerns about the harsh conditions at the state’s only “supermax” prison.

The prison’s dangerous inmates would be transferred to maximum-security lock-ups in Pontiac or Chester.

Lawmakers cautioned there is no guarantee Quinn will actually spend the money to keep the facilities open…”

Yeah, there certainly is no guarantee that Quinn will either approve the budget or spend the money the way the legislators are telling him that they want it spent. We know enough about Quinn to bet that there are parts of the budget that he will not accept and that he will move some of the budget monies around. While there is money in the budget for all the facilities, funding runs a little short for some of them. For example for Developmental Centers current funding this year is $293M vs $269M in this budget.  As IL Senate Republican, Christine Radogno, characterizes it on her website today: “…Although the budget pretended to protect a number of state facilities from closure, the budget actually gave the Governor tremendous flexibility to shutter facilities and move money around. State facilities that the Governor targeted for closure were not allocated sufficient funds to remain open for a full year and provisions contained within the budget allowed the Governor to take funds earmarked for one facility, move those funds into a more general account and then reallocate those funds to a completely different facility…”

It will not be surprising if Quinn does choose to go ahead and close at least one or two of the state facilities which he is threatening with closure despite the recommendations of the The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) that none of these be closed. Quinn is already indicating that he will proceed with his closure of the Jacksonville Developmental Center,

Quinn: No change in position on Jacksonville Developmental Center

Quinn has the ultimate authority to close any or all of his wish list facilities regardless of input or the COGFA recommendations. It is just that no Governor has previously closed any facilities without COGFA approval. We will just have to hold tight to our seats and see what Quinn decides to do in the next 60 days or so.

Well, the IL General Assembly Fall Veto Session is finally over! IL legislators tonight completed Governor Pat Quinn’s job and by reallocating the money in the IL current state budget they worked out a deal to avoid Quinn’s threatened shut-down for seven state facilities and the proposed lay-offs of over 1900 state employees. They also reinstated some funding for mental health and even came up with funds to pay for indigent burials!

Legislators also, fortunately, left Springfield without approving the unwarranted tax breaks for Sears and the Chicago Merchantile Exchange. Too bad that state legislators felt that they had to devote most of this one last day to considering whether or not to give these corporations the tax breaks they are demanding in return for remaining in IL. In the end only 8 legislators voted in favor of tax breaks, so we will see if Sears and CME flee the state or not.

Now, legislators are far from having addressed the serious fiscal problems which the state faces. Averting state closures now is still a temporary fix. Funding will only cover the state budget thru June 2011. We can certainly anticipate a lot more discussion about the state having to close facilities and cut additional staff in 2012. We just hope that Governor Pat Quinn doesn’t again create more chaos and waste everyone’s time and more state money by coming up with another hasty list of “must-do” state closures:

Written by Koehler Staff Tuesday, 29 November 2011 19:31, from IL Senator Koehler’s website:

Springfield – Late Tuesday evening, the General Assembly took action to partially restore human services funding, avert state facility closings, and prevent mass layoffs. They achieved these goals by reprioritizing state spending—not spending additional taxpayer dollars.

“This action is good news for people throughout the state of Illinois, particularly for the families of the mentally ill and developmentally disabled,” said State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria). “During the holiday season, no one wants to worry about finding care for a loved one or the possibility of getting laid off.”

After Governor Quinn approved the General Assembly’s budget last summer, he claimed that he did not have adequate funding to keep all of the state’s mental health and developmental disability centers open. He threatened to close seven state-run buildings throughout the state. This legislation, Senate Bill 2412, allows the facilities to remain operational for the rest of the fiscal year.

It also partially restores funding for mental health grants that go to local mental health centers, alcoholism and substance abuse programs, burial services for the homeless and very poor, homelessness prevention programs, and need-based financial aid for college students.

To pay for these restorations, the General Assembly sustained many of the governor’s budget-related vetoes, shifted money from other state funds, and reduced a number of lower-priority grants.

“I think this budget more closely reflects our state’s priorities,” Koehler said. “It helps protect the people who are least able to protect themselves. And, while I will admit that we may need to explore facility closures in the future, we need to make sure we plan ahead and transfer mental health patients and developmentally disabled people into safe situations. Closing their facilities without a plan in place could result in unreasonable hardship for these people and their families.”

“I think this is the way budgeting should work,” Koehler added. “We set our priorities, re-examined the budget, and then lowered spending in some areas to allow us to pay more in others.”

7 state facilities getting short-term reprieves

Quinn, legislators work out deal to keep Tinley Park Mental Health Center, 6 other sites open through June

(Chicago Tribune article)

IL legislators have begun tackling several major issues in this first day of the end of the regular fall veto session. They have such a long list to get through that some legislators are already discussion an extension of this veto session later this month. Whether that will happen depends on how much momentum they get out of the next couple of days. House legislators were able to pass a watered down gambling bill which addresses some of Governor Quinn’s expressed concerns on gambling but still leaves in slots at racetracks. Quinn has said he would veto anything with racetrack slots, but he has irritated lawmakers to such an extent that the legislature is attempting to pass a gambling bill that will have enough supermajority votes to override a veto from Quinn. More work remains to be done on the bill before setting it up for voting. Legislators are also attempting to pass their pension reform bill, but that faces a much more uncertain passage during this session since recent analysis of the bill indicates from several sources that instead of curbing future state pension obligations, the proposed manner in which the legislature is approaching reform will likely result in either higher costs to the state or far less savings than plan advocates intend. See article below:

Illinois House committee OKs major pension overhaul

The only other issues considered by legislators far are huge tax breaks (which we can’t afford) for the profitable CME Group Inc. and CBOE Holdings Inc. based in Chicago exchanges; increasing the number of speeding camera; and fixing financing for the Leucadia Chicago Clean Energy project.  The General Assembly has adjourned to today, so we will see if anything useful happens tomorrow. AGAIN, WHAT WILL DEFINITELY NOT HAPPEN THIS SESSION is anything respecting the reinstatement of Meritorious Good Time (MGT) credits or any state prison early release program. At this moment, what is more urgent is that the legislature do something to reallocate budget monies enough to forestall Governor Pat Quinn’s threats to close down 7 state facilities at the end of December 2011, and layoff 2000 plus staff.  Today, mental health advocates are pressuring legislators to reinstate threatened funding for programs.  They also presented 8,000 petition signatures against closure of the Chester Mental Health Center, one of the 7 state facilities Quinn has targeted.

There are only three days left in the IL General Assembly Veto Session for 2011. Legislators are working behind the scenes now to prepare for when they return on November 8, 2011. At least one issue; the gambling expansion, seems to be stymied. Although a bill has been drawn up to dumb down the proposed expansion in state-wide gambling in order to address Governor Pat Quinn’s concerns, the absence of slots at racetracks will probably doom the passage of gambling expansion. Quinn claims that racetrack owners will be willing to accept a subsidy in lieu of slots, but it is clear that this is not the case. This result of no compromise will be to kill any gambling expansion, and may be the one Pat Quinn intended from the first by proposing extensive changes to the bill the legislature originally proposed.

Non-action on gambling may free up some consideration time for other issues. The biggest public concern remaining is what will happen to the seven state facilities which Governor Pat Quinn has targeted for closures beginning December 31, 2011, due to “lack of money” to operate them. There have been public hearings state-wide for each of the facilities and a lot of public outrage expressed to the state and to legislators over the haphazard way in which Governor Quinn selected these facilities for closure. Many legislators accuse Quinn of playing partisan politics by selecting mostly downstate facilities located in mostly Republican districts  to close. Critics point out that the Quinn administrations claims of the monetary savings realized by closing these facilities are over-stated and do not include the costs the state will incur having to make alternative placement and treatment plans for the thousands of individuals the facilities presently provide services for. Plenty of people regard Quinn’s initial proposal to close these facilities as a political ploy to try to push the legislature to still try to get his own way and make them agree to borrow more money to cover state budget deficits as he initially proposed at the start of the year. Quinn was hoping to turn public outrage and a time deadline against the legislators as pressure to approve borrowing.

So far, this appears to have backfired against Quinn. There has been plenty of outrage, but so far, most of it is directed at Quinn for using the public as a pawn in his disagreement with the legislature. Legislators are distancing themselves from Quinn and attempting to work around him to come up with the funds needed to operate each of these facilities, for at least the short-term. While everyone admits that some state facility closures may be necessary down the road, no body likes the manner in which Quinn came up with his short list without much input and consideration from others. It is generally agreed that such closures should come only after much discussion and after all other more reasonable attempts to save money are made by the state. That may happen next year or the year after. For now, both sides of the legislature are trying to come up with money to avoid the closures. Quinn vetoed $376 million from the budget sent to him this year by the General Assembly. Instead of looking to override Quinn’s veto, legislators are instead doing Quinn’s job and looking to possibly use those funds to cover the shortfalls in operating the seven state facilities through sometime next year: (Click on each red link to read each of the articles below)

Quinn’s $376 million budget veto likely to be spent elsewhere

We believe that state legislators will be able to pull together enough funding to cover the budget shortage for these facilities and avoid the accompanying layoffs, simply because they know they have little choice. Yet there are other complications which will be unpopular. The money they are looking to use are basically just delayed Medicaid payments into next fiscal year and vetoed school transportation funds. Using this money elsewhere will cost the state a big federal Medicaid match and not be like downstate.

Quinn’s administrative staff is supposedly helping the legislators review the funding sources and figures, but Quinn himself is becoming more outspoken in criticizing the legislature lately and this is not helping his relationship with the legislature and their regard for him:

Quinn says he’s no pal of lawmakers

Quinn earlier indicated that he would work with legislators to try to avoid the prison closures if possible. This appears to have been a PR statement on his part, in early October, when he felt hopeful that he could bring public pressure to bear against them. Now that his power is pretty empty, he has to follow through on his words:

Quinn would consider keeping prison open

Nevertheless, the hasty planning in the closures proposal has become evident in the past month. At least one planned closure plan, for Logan is now being redrawn since the impracticalities in it would make it impossible to implement:

Logan closure plan altered, more prison crowding looms

Quinn’s closure plans are clearly premature and drastic; his putting the horse before the cart. It was only a year or so ago that Quinn made a big display about soliciting the public and state workers to submit information and suggestions to a state website about ways in which the state could save money. Now, Quinn is in the position of having started a cutting process which he may not be able to demonstrate is in fact necessary since he can’t show that these suggestions and other options have been thoroughly explored. The following item appeared just the other day. The question is how many other ways for the state to save money has Quinn tried up to now, and will the state suddenly take up more of these options?

Zipcars to be available for traveling state employees

While the biggest number of layoffs remain in the future, a small number of them are already beginning. Quinn will now be in the position to receive the backlash from these layoffs coming at a time when the economy is still poor and the holiday season is beginning:

Two dozen state workers to get pink slips