Thank you for all of your support throughout the spring as we pushed for a permanent increase for DSP wages and provider operations in the state budget. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this turned out to be an unprecedented session of the Illinois General Assembly. State legislators only met for a handful of days between May 21 and May 24, and they ultimately passed a “flat” budget with little room for additional spending.
Even so, the state budget included a $1.00 per hour increase in state reimbursements for wages starting July 1, 2020 and another $0.50 increase starting January 1, 2021.
It is thanks to supporters like you that we were able to secure this new funding in spite of COVID-19 causing billions of dollars in lost revenue, creating unexpected pressures throughout the state. Since the beginning of 2020, our supporters sent nearly 30,000 email letters to Illinois legislators urging them to take action to address the DSP staffing crisis—the most we’ve seen in any of the four years since the They Deserve More campaign began! We know, because we heard from state legislators, that our media stories, our videos and your groundswell of advocacy to elected officials ensured that people with disabilities were not left behind, even with a pandemic-sized hole in the budget.
These wage reimbursement increases will help providers keep pace with upcoming increases to the minimum wage, but we all know that they will not come close to solving what is truly needed to support people with disabilities and the DSPs who care for them. And, the COVID-19 pandemic is constantly adding new challenges for our community with no clear end in sight.
The General Assembly will convene again this year, in the fall veto session or, if significant federal COVID dollars come to IL, there may be an earlier opportunity to revisit the FY21 budget. In any case, more to come and we hope we can continue to count on you. It mattered. You made a difference. And, please stay tuned.