The Illinois General Assembly adjourned its spring session in the wee hours of Saturday morning, April 9, and approved a robust FY2023 budget for the state. Throughout the session, we advocated for the legislature to include $246.8 million in new state funding to support people with disabilities, which would fully implement the Guidehouse Rate Study recommendations for FY2023. However, the final budget appropriated Governor Pritzker’s original $94.8 million increase for Guidehouse-related investments.
Your continued and passionate advocacy efforts over the last few years have helped secure incremental increases and brought the needs of the system to the Governor’s attention. Without this advocacy, the Governor would not have originally proposed such a significant investment.
Despite this increased funding for the next fiscal year, however, it falls well-short of what is needed to stabilize the community provider system, solve the staffing problems, and allow for future expansion of services. Guidehouse clearly laid out the investments needed to begin the work of repairing the system over a five-year period. In a year of positive state revenue projections and an estimated $2 billion added to the Governor’s proposed budget by the General Assembly, we consider it a missed opportunity to have not fully funded the Guidehouse recommendations for a second year in a row.
The FY2023 budget passed this spring will help prevent a collapse of the system, but we do not expect the situation on the ground to materially improve for provider agencies and the people they serve. Rather, we are deeply concerned that agencies will continue to be forced to close or consolidate homes, end some programs altogether, and turn away people seeking services. It doesn’t matter how many people come off the state’s 14,000+ wait list if they can’t find a provider with the funding to serve them.
Our work here is far from done.
Please know that we are enormously grateful for your support and your advocacy over the years and this year. While we didn’t get all that we wanted, we came out in force with thousands of witness slips filed and thousands of notes to legislators, and that matters now and for the future. We had several legislators actually asking us to stop the flood of emails! Many legislators argued strenuously on our behalf during budget negotiations, and we are enormously grateful for their support.
For a decade, we received no rate increases from the state – so incremental wage increases each year over the last five as well as the rate and wage investment in FY22 are indeed an important result of your actions. Now that there is a blueprint to solve the problem, it is imperative that the legislature work with us and the Illinois Department of Human Services to follow those critically needed recommendations.
We know they deserve more – both those we serve and our hardworking staff people dedicating their careers to helping people with disabilities have the most fulfilling lives.
We are focused on the next phase of our advocacy and hope we can count on you for continued support. Do not be discouraged. Let’s use our energy and concern toward even greater results in the near future!