Illinois Governor Vetoes Wage Hike For Workers Who Serve The Disabled
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill Friday that would have raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour for workers who assist people with developmental disabilities.
Specifically, the legislation sought to raise the hourly minimum wage to $15 for the roughly 34,000 direct support personnel (DSP) workers in Illinois. Currently, their average hourly wage is $9.35, according to the Ray Graham Association for people with disabilities.
The agency said it was "extremely disappointed" by the governor's veto.
The legislation was needed to modernize reimbursement rates so agencies could pay a "living wage" to attract and retain DSPs, proponents said.
The DSP workforce is in "crisis," said Ray Graham Association CEO Kim Zoeller. The staffing shortage resulted in a federal monitor finding Illinois to be noncompliant with the "federal Ligas consent decree that ensures access to appropriate services," Zoeller noted.
"Our service system is crumbling," added Art Dykstra, CEO of the disability service provider Trinity Services. "We are getting to the point where we will have to ask families to consider taking their loved ones home on weekends because we can't adequately staff the houses."
The governor vetoed the bill over cost concerns.
Here is Rauner's veto message:
Today I return House Bill 5931, which would require an immediate 40% increase in taxpayer-funded wages for certain professionals, but without providing any funding.
We should first acknowledge the difficult and important work of these professionals, who assist persons with intellectual and development disabilities in residential and day programs. Many of these professionals have not had a wage increase in years. I am open to finding a responsible way to increase wages for these professionals, but unfortunately this bill is not the answer.
The national average hourly wage for these workers is $10.71, in line with current Illinois wages. House Bill 5931 would immediately increase the Illinois wage to $15.00 per hour, significantly above the national average. The bill would increase the cost of caring for people with development disabilities by $330 million per year, of which Illinois taxpayers would be required to pay at least half. The bill does not provide any mechanism for funding this additional cost.
We should work together to pass a balanced budget. In that context, we can examine savings, program changes, or funding sources that could enable us to better use taxpayer dollars for this and other priorities. Through such a process, we can find the appropriate and affordable way to fund an increase in wages. But until then, it would be fiscally irresponsible to commit the State to significant payments for which it has no available funding.
Therefore, pursuant to Section 9(b) of Article IV of the Illinois Constitution of 1970, I hereby return House Bill 5931, entitled "AN ACT concerning State government", with the foregoing objections, vetoed in its entirety.
Article courtesy of progressillinois.com
Quality of Life Research Study
For Families Impacted by Intellectual Disability
To all parents with a son or daughter of any age with intellectual disability!
The Disability Research Program at Wheaton College, in collaboration with Vanderbilt University, invites you to participate in an anonymous survey to help understand and improve the quality of life for families impacted by intellectual disability. They are inviting hundreds of parents across Illinois and Tennessee to share their views and they want you to take part! Forty parents will be randomly selected to receive a $25 gift card for completing the survey. Also, they will use what they learn to create a free guide for all families who participate, as well as the organizations that serve them. More information available at the following website: www.wheaton.edu/FQOL-study
How can you participate in this research project?
If you are the parent or primary caregiver/legal guardian of an individual of any age with an intellectual disability you can take the online version of the survey by clicking on the link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/disabilityresearch (or copying it into a web browser). However, if you desire a print version of the survey, please send an e-mail to Thomas Boehm at email@example.com, call him at (630) 752-5937, or send the following information by mail: Your Name, E-mail, Street Address, City, State, Zip Code, Telephone #. You can mail this information to: Thomas Boehm, Education Dept., 501 College Ave., Wheaton, IL 60187-5593.
*Do you know anyone else with a son or daughter with ID?
Please forward this invitation to them!
FISHING TRIP ON LAKE SHELBYVILLE
Two very lucky fellows enjoyed a guided fishing trip on Lake Shelbyville recently and as you can see they had quite a bit of luck. Fishing with Lake Shelbyville guide Steve Welch, they brought home so many fish, they were able to invite their guide to a fish fry at their home in Sullivan.
Steve wrote of this experience:
Tina and I went to dinner with our new friends from The Moultrie County Beacon. David, Kent and Nathan. We got to see their nice home and had an enjoyable evening. Of course they can't wait to go fishing again!!!!
You see, community residential services are intended to provide individuals with a living arrangement that is much like yours and mine. Individuals are fully integrated into communities, making friends and acquaintances who provide them with enriching experiences and support beyond those who are paid to provide them with care.
The Moultrie County Beacon, Inc. operates nine residential homes in Sullivan and provide Community Integrated Living Arrangements (CILA's) to 36 individuals, providing them with 24 hour care and support. These men and women call Sullivan home, and are citizens with the rights and liberties that we all enjoy.
Community integration means that individuals receive the care and support to learn independent living skills in the least restrictive setting possible, quite unlike settings that provided institutional care in decades past. Immense progress has been made in service provision to individuals with intellectual disabilities.
Providing care to these individuals is a big responsibility. Our Direct Service Personnel (DSP's) receive classroom and on the job training for over 140 hours upon hiring. They pass rigorous standards for providing care and implement a plan of care that is developed by a community support team led by a Qualified Intellectual Disability Professional, family, guardians, day programming and nursing staff.
Perhaps this gives you a glimpse of the immense importance of this profession. Direct Service Personel do an extremely important job, with oversight by agency staff, case coordination agencies, inspector generals, medical professionals and family members. This is quite unlike a job in fast food, retail sales and other entry level work experience, but the rate of pay for these individuals remains inadequate for providing for themselves outside of poverty level wages. And due to the rates provided to us by the State of Illinois for their compensation, and asking so much of them in regard to the quality of the care that they are expected to provide, this is woefully unfair.
Please consider offering a voice of support for our DSP's and the important job that they do for individuals in their care. These employees provide a high standard of care and their work is so valuable to us all.
Illinois General Assembly Approves
DSP Living Wage Legislation
HB 5931 Passes Both Chambers
Today marks an historic series of events for IARF and all who have worked over the years to increase the wages for Direct Service Personnel. The Senate approved HB 5931 by a vote of 40-18-00. Having already passed the House by a vote of 67-43-00, the next step is for the bill to be sent to Governor Rauner for his consideration.
Taking a Look Back
Increasing wages for Direct Service Personnel has been a priority issue for IARF for several years. Legislation has been introduced in multiple Illinois General Assemblies, but only this year have we been successful in getting the bill to a vote, and it went as far as passing both Chambers.
Undoubtedly, one glaring difference between years past and now, is the effectiveness of our grassroots advocacy networks and the coalition of organizations we worked with hand-in-hand. Each and every agency who participated in our campaign should be proud of the work they have done to get us to this point. When you consider the prevailing political and financial pressures that currently exist, passing a bill of this nature is a truly remarkable achievement.
First and foremost, our work is not over. In fact, you can expect IARF to initiate another round of grassroots advocacy efforts, this time focused on the Governor, as it is almost a foregone conclusion Governor Rauner will veto HB 5931. Working from this expectation, our ability to build pressure and priority for this issue is crucial.
When a budget compromise is made, which will happen at some point, no matter how dysfunctional things are at this point in time, we want DSP wages to be recognized as a priority funding issue. Our actions to date have brought us closer to this goal, but we must continue working hard until the end.
A big, big thank you is in order to all who participated in our advocacy efforts! Additionally, an equally big thanks is due to our legislative champions – Senator Heather Steans and Robyn Gabel – and every legislator who supported our efforts! Without your support and our legislative champions, we would not have made it this far.
Now What Do We Do To Help the Effort?
HB 5931 – the Community Disability Living Wage Act – has passed the Illinois General Assembly and will be sent to Governor Rauner for his consideration. The Coalition leaders have outlined an agreed strategy to maximize pressure on the Governor to take positive action on this important legislation. In order to provide time to maximize our advocacy efforts, the lead sponsor on the bill has agreed to ensure it will not be transmitted to the Governor for further action until June 30th, 2016.
The Governor will have up to 60 calendar days to take action on the bill once it arrives on his desk.
In the meantime, here are some suggestions for how to help.
Meet with Editors of Newspapers in your Hometown:
IARF Grassroots Advocacy Regional Leaders are being called upon to coordinate meetings with editorial boards of newspapers within their regions. The purpose of this activity is to garner agreement from editorial boards to publish editorials encouraging the Administration to take positive action on HB 5931 and address the DSP workforce crisis.
As has been recommended previously, a team visiting an editorial board should minimally consist of a provider Executive Director/CEO, DSP, and/or an individual receiving services or a family member/guardian.
Resources to assist in this effort are provided below:
Resource Guide on the DSP Living Wage Bill
Letters to the Editor:
Provider ED/CEOS and family members of individuals receiving services at member agencies are encouraged to author brief letters-to-the-editor to their local newspapers encouraging the Administration to take positive action on HB 5931 and address the DSP workforce crisis. These letters should be no more than 250 words, be clear and concise, and make a specific ask (guest editorials may offer up to 500 words). The purpose of this effort is to show broad statewide support in both small and large newspapers across Illinois for DSP living wages.
Resources to assist in this effort are provided below:
Call Governor Rauner:
Few actions can better exhibit widespread support for a legislative initiative than a large volume of calls focused on a singular issue. The Governor’s office has staff whose specific duties are to log calls to the Governor’s office and report the volume of calls on specific issues to staff in the Governor’s office (who in turn report this to the Governor). The purpose of this action is to activate a sustainable call-in effort, organized by regions, to log thousands of calls to the Governor urging him to sign HB 5931 into law.
Resources to assist in this effort are provided below:
These advocacy efforts are aimed at maximizing pressure and exposure to the issue over the next three weeks. Once the bill is officially transmitted to the Governor, we will continue (and modify) aspects of this advocacy campaign (including organizing a statewide press conference in Springfield).
THANK YOU FOR BEING AN ADVOCATE FOR THE DSP LIVING WAGE BILL!
MAKE YOUR VOICES HEARD!
of Rehabilitation Facilities
Since its incorporation, IARF has been the voice of human service organizations in government. In addition we have worked to provide agencies with individual consultation on issues that affect them specifically. IARF also commits itself to developing programs that return members’ investment of their dues. Our purpose is clear, "To assist in the development and improvement of services in Illinois."
The Association represents nearly 80 member agencies providing services and supports in more than 900 locations across the state of Illinois from Galena to Karnak, Chicago to Metro East St. Louis, and Quincy to Danville. Our membership provides services and supports in 111 of 118 legislative districts representing a unique opportunity to shape public policy as our membership is active at the grassroots level.
THANK YOU FOR THE GENEROUS SUPPORT FROM OUR FRIENDS AT EK PETROLEUM!
During the month of May our friends at EK Petroleum in Sullivan donated 1 cent for each gallon of gas sold at any of their locations.
This effort raised $822.54 which will aid the Moultrie County Beacon, Inc. during this time of budget shortfalls.
EK Petroleum is a generous supporter for many important causes in our area.
Thank You John and Roger
and all of you who supported this effort with your gas purchases!
SAVE DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITY SERVICES
SUPPORT A LIVING WAGE FOR DSP'S
SUPPORT SB 2952 (Steans) / HB 5931 (Gabel)
On January 7, 2016 a federal court monitor found the State of Illinois non-compliant with the Ligas Consent Decree, a federal court order that ensures access to community care for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The court monitor’s findings stemmed from a meeting with 68 community providers from around the state.
DSP WORKFORCE CRISIS IN ILLINOIS…
In Illinois, more than 27,000 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities rely on Direct Support Professionals (DSPs – also known as Direct Support Persons) for supports from daily personal care (eating, grooming, and dressing) to teaching essential skills and attending to complex medical needs.
The average wage for DSPs is $9.35/hr, or $19,488 a year, less than the federal poverty level for a family of three. Poverty wages mean nearly half of Illinois DSPs rely on some form of public benefits, despite working full time.
State payments to support individuals in the community have not increased in nearly a decade. By contrast, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has increased 14% over the same time period.
The lack of a living wage for DSPs results in high employee turnover, creating cruel upheaval in the lives of those who most need a stable workforce. Rising wages in competing sectors now mean, despite strenuous efforts to recruit new workers, agencies are experiencing staff vacancy rates of up to 30%.
The Agency is relying more on overtime to cover shifts, leading to staff burnout and driving up costs. In some cases, shifts can’t be covered, putting individuals at risk!
FROM OUR DIRECTOR ,
These past few weeks have been a flurry of activity as we gear up for the 12th Annual Beacon Benefit at the Otto Center in Arthur. Last week several Beacon staff working with dozens of Amish and Mennonite ladies (and gents) made and distributed 12,000 fried pies! It is amazing what we can accomplish when we all work together! (I think someone famous may have said that)
This week the huge benefit committee is preparing for the festivities that will take place on Friday. We make more fried pies on Thursday; donuts, tea rings and Cinna Swirls on Friday morning; Auction items begin arriving at the Otto Center on Friday morning and by mid-afternoon the food stands are ready to go and chicken dinner is on the grill. The highlight of the event starts at 5:30 when the gavel swings and the auction begins!
Each year the result of this event takes on greater importance, as the support from the State of Illinois continues to decline. In contrast, our resolve to meet the needs of people with developmental disabilities remains strong.
Unfortunately it is also necessary for us to fight for the rights of our direct care staff (DSP’s) to earn a living wage. We cannot provide high quality care without a full roster of employees and our entry level pay simply does not pay the bills. The result is high turnover of employees and positions that are never fully filled. Thankfully we have a group of dedicated DSP’s who are willing to put in extra hours to meet the need – but that isn’t the answer. We should be funded at a level that enables us to pay a living wage.
Please help us send this message to our politicians in Springfield! The people we serve, and the people who serve them, deserve their attention and their respect!
In closing, I hope you can join us on Friday night and help us meet our financial goals!
We sincerely thank you for the support,
THANK YOU FOR COMING TO THE
We are truly grateful for all the support
given for this event!