We have been monitoring the transition from Governor Quinn to Governor Rauner. With a change not just in governors, but in the governor’s political party, there can be changes in priorities. There will be lots of new faces in the different state departments, especially at the leadership level. We don’t know if changes that were already in the works will continue, such as closure of state institutions, combining all the Medicaid Waivers into one, increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities, etc. And, of course, how the new administration will approach the state budget and how that will impact SU. Our goal, as always and regardless of political party, is to educate our elected officials on the needs of the people we serve and advocate for those needs.
Probably the biggest priority at the moment is to increase funding for direct care staff wages. These are the people who do the important work, directly with the people served. We worked very hard last spring to get increase for direct care staff into the budget, calling it the Care Campaign. There are too many people who are great at direct care who have to leave for other jobs that can pay higher wages. Our most immediate concern is to make sure that, if a minimum wage increase is passed, there is funding included to increase staff wages as well. Otherwise we will be in a bit of a bind.