Disability News Service, Resources, Diversity, Americans with Disabilities Act; Local and National.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Illinois Budget Impasse Action Alert: Are We Arriving at Zero Hour for the Disability Community?

The State of Illinois Budget Impasse continues to severely affect social services for all in Illinois, but  the disability community is still a target of Gov. Rauner's administration. Social Service organizations are reducing services available, some are closing offices, and reducing days and hours of operation.

Our colleagues at Access Living shared the post below, in a sincere effort to raise awareness, but also for support of a man that has been advocate for people with disabilities, on a local, state, and national level. Our friend Larry Biondi (photo), the Advocacy Coordinator at Progress Center for Independent Living, has been laid off - because of our State of Illinois budget crisis. My thoughts are with you Larry...

Please read Access Living's post below on the impact Illinois Budget Impasse is having, but also reach out to Gov. Rauner, and YOUR State Legislator, in person, by phone, and/or Access Living's online petition (link also below).
Jim Watkins, publisher
Ability Chicago Info

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Dear Access Living friends and allies,
Last week, the impact of the state budget crisis hit close to home for me when I learned that my good friend Larry Biondi, the Advocacy Coordinator at Progress Center for Independent Living, had been laid off because of our state budget crisis. Many of you will be familiar with Larry as a disability advocate who uses a power chair and speech device with a “pointer” attached to his head. He has testified countless times before the Illinois legislature on disability issues, and over the course of nearly 23 years at Progress Center, he has mentored hundreds of other people with disabilities in being advocates themselves.
My friend Larry lives independently in his own apartment and is a person who coordinates a team of personal attendants through the Home Services Program to handle his personal care needs. I have known Larry for more than 10 years and I know that I can always count on him to ensure that the work we do in disability rights is actually inclusive and beneficial to people with disabilities. Advocates like Larry Biondi do our state proud.
And now, because of the budget crisis, he and countless others who work in disability services and advocacy are out of a job. Is this what was meant by making Illinois a better state for employment?
We are approaching zero hour for many, many disability organizations. We in the disability nonprofit world have laid people off, reformed internal structures, held off on hires and gone on furlough days. Four of the 22 Centers for Independent Living in Illinois now have contingency plans to close if state funding is not received by June 30. While our state government affirms the importance of community living, the reality is that the state budget crisis is damaging the disability community-based services sector in ways from which it will take years to recover.
Last week, it was reported in an Illinois Senate hearing that 836 human services providers have unpaid bills due from the State of Illinois Department of Human Services. $168 million needs to be legislated to pay these bills. Imagine if those bills will never be paid because, as some report, the budget crisis will drag out until November of this year when elections are held. And that’s just one state agency---bills are due from the Illinois Department on Aging, the Illinois Department of Health and Family Services, and many more.
Whether you are a friend of Larry Biondi, a friend of Access Living, or just a supporter of disability rights, we ask you to help us speak out. Use this easy link to contact our Governor and your state legislators to ask them to move quickly towards a budget resolution for the current year. Too many organizations and programs are having to face their zero hour. The people who run our state need to hear from you.
For Larry Biondi and every person who has lost their job to the state budget crisis: Let’s go, Illinois!
Amber Smock
Director of Advocacy, Access Living

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