Governor’s Budget Address

Governor Pritzker presented his Budget Address yesterday, laying out his plans for state spending for Fiscal Year 2021, which begins July 1. The DHS Briefing Page can be found here. In terms of good news, he proposes funding to increase wages for our direct care staff. This is important because they don’t fund us well enough for them to make a decent wage. Sometimes they end up leaving a job they love in order to make more money. The proposal is to increase DSP wages by $1.00/hour July 1 and another $.50/hour January 1, 2021. This would help us keep up with the rising minimum wage and begin to get a little ahead of the increases, which is critical. We appreciate the Governor’s recognition of the importance of the work we do. We also appreciate everyone who brought the Ligas lawsuit against the state, which puts pressure on them to fund the service system as well.

Here is the relevant page from the budget powerpoint presentation:

Our DSPs are the heart and soul of our agency, and the care they give to the people we serve is why we do everything we do. However, we deal with an incredible amount of regulatory requirements and state surveys, pay for financial audits and accreditation, maintain a fleet of vehicles and maintain our homes and main building. These costs go up as well and the employees who perform this work deserve the state’s recognition in terms of funding as well.

What’s next? Advocacy! Just because the Governor proposes a budget, it rarely turns out the same once the Illinois House and Senate do their own work to come to agreement on what the spending priorities of the state should be. We fought last year to tie DSP wages to the increasing minimum wage and failed. That won’t stop us from fighting once again–what we do is too important not to fight.

The They Deserve More Coalition has put together a legislative agenda, asking for a 20% increase in funding, mostly for those important DSP wages but also some for other staff and other expenses that keep going up. Here are links to the bills that have been filed in the Illinois House and Senate. It would be great if you could ask your state representative and senator to become co-sponsors of these bills. That way they will know what’s important to us as they make the difficult decisions of what the state should fund when there’s not enough money to do everything they want to.

SUdogs :)

We had a great time today making our own Murals, and a plus.. our hallways look beautiful as a result. Two of the Walldogs got wind and paid us a visit also, which was super cool. They were very impressed by everyone’s work, and everyone loved to hear the comments and praise from the two artists and from everyone in the building. It was a proud day for many

 

Take Me Out To The Ballgame!!

The Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity, based at the University of Illinois, hosted 11 Individuals and 5 staff to a Chief’s baseball game in Peoria and lunch. This event came about because of Avalon Dittmer, who is an APO sister and a seasonal DSP at Streator Unlimited/Kent. Avalon indicated that she wanted to do something nice for the Individuals and introduce her APO brother and sisters to the Individuals who have come to mean so much to her. The Individuals and staff had an amazing day with Avalon and APO. Judy Whitney indicated that the Avalon and her friends made everyone feel special and made time to talk with each one of them. The game picked up in the fifth inning with the Chiefs winning 7 to 5. Thank you Avalon and APO!!! We had an AWESOME time.