CEO and President Kim Zoeller’s Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

I have a solution to the Governor’s budget that proposes draconian cuts to community-based services.  This includes children and adults with developmental disabilities and other vital human services.  The solution is to spend Illinois tax payer dollars in an efficient and effective manner!  The Governor’s proposed budget levies horrific cuts to community based services that are quality in nature and cost effective when directly compared to the State-run Institution model that clearly is a sacred cow in Illinois for some elected officials.

Illinois State-run Institutions have a proven record of providing negligent services that have placed people at great harm and have often times resulted in death.  These sub-standard services currently provided to 2,156 people come at a very high cost.  The average annual cost per resident in a State Institution is $168,656.  However, the average annual cost per person served in a 24-hour supervised community-based setting is approximately $50,000. [Data source:  Don Moss and Associates, 2/2011]  Simple logic and math tells us that if today our State leaders made a commitment to serve its 2,156 citizens residing in state-run institutions in community settings there would be an estimated $200 million savings!

However, local community services are in the line of fire for drastic cuts beginning July 1, 2011.  Illinois’ own Department of Human Service’s data shows that there are more than 20,862 children and adults with disabilities waiting for community services. 14,757 people have an emergency or critical need today!  It seems to me that the Governor’s proposed budget is positioning their nine state-run institutions as the only viable option.  Starting in July 2011 these facilities get a $30M increase to fulfill an overall 14.5% agreement to increase wages.  There is no one waiting to move into a state-institution, there are only people waiting to move out!  In fact, the overall census of people with disabilities is projected to drop, but the staff head count is not!

Illinois remains one of the top 5 states nationally for the number of people living in state-run institutions, all the while being near the very bottom of all of the states in funding community services.  We need to change our spending patterns now.  This is not just a human service issue…it is an issue of the state exhibiting poor financial stewardship. 

Sincerely,

Kim Zoeller
President and CEO
Ray Graham Association

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