{{featured_button_text}}

There is little doubt that the face-off between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democrats who control the General Assembly has been a slow motion disaster for the state.

It's more like a flood than a tornado. For most of us, after more than three months without a state budget, the water is lapping at our knees. For some it is already chest deep.

At some point, if the two sides don't wake up and get moving, the legal levies built to protect us from the politicians will begin to crumble, leaving all of us neck deep, floundering in the floodwaters.

Sadly, the stories of how a lack of a budget is affecting Illinoisans have started to become routine.

I came across a new one last week.

At the state's mental health facilities, residents are supposed to be given postage in order to send letters to communicate with the outside world.

But, with no budget in place, the agency running the facilities has no authority to purchase stamps.

That has left officials scrambling.

"We've put some stop-gap measures in place to continue mail delivery at all of our mental health and developmental disability facilities, including moving postage from underused facilities to facilities where it is more needed," said Veronica Vera, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Human Services.

At the McFarland Mental Health Center in Springfield, the residents have been able to send out their mail at least once per week.

As the water continues to rise, how long will it be before someone at the state makes a plea for Illinoisans to fish around in their junk drawers for stray postage stamps.

Disabled update

A hearing Tuesday will focus on the Rauner administration's attempt to roll back an increase in the personal allowances received by developmentally disabled residents.

In 2014, the Legislature boosted the allowance to $60 per month. It returned to its previous levels of $30 and $50 on July 1.

After reading about the upcoming hearing, Barbara Thomas of Charleston got in touch.

Here's what she wrote:

"Whether it's $30 or $60, it's not enough to cover personal expenses of anyone, whether the person has a disability or not. That so-called allowance is supposed to pay for much more than snacks, toiletries and entertainment. Individuals with disabilities must pay for clothing, dental care, podiatry, medication co-pays, psychiatric visits, and if there is money left (seriously), they will have money for snacks and entertainment.

"I have a son receiving residential services... I pay for my son's dental care, give him spending money, buy his clothing, buy his bedding, etc. I do it willingly and with love. He is my son and deserves a quality of life that is more than 'eats and sheets.' The real question is what happens to the individuals who don't have anyone to subsidize their care."

Flip flop time?

Rauner wants to sell the James R. Thompson Center in downtown Chicago. If the idea sounds familiar, think back to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. He wanted to sell the decrepit state office building, too.

During his tenure, Blagojevich threatened to close a lot of state facilities. In an attempt to rein in his ability to shutter prisons and other state institutions, the General Assembly approved a law that slows down the closure process in order to shed sunlight on it.

Now, however, Rauner's surrogates in the General Assembly want to put the Thompson Center closure on a fast track.

One of the people sponsoring the fast track proposal is Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont. Back in 2004, she voted in favor of the law designed to put the brakes on Blagojevich.

Other Republicans who will have to reverse their 2004 votes if they back the fast track idea include state Sens. Bill Brady of Bloomington, Chapin Rose of Mahomet, Dave Luechtefeld of Okawville and Dale Righter of Mattoon. GOP members of the House who will have to flip include Dan Brady of Bloomington and Bill Mitchell of Forsyth.

Next up

The House and Senate return to the Capitol Tuesday for the first time in a month. Few are expecting any kind of final resolution to the budget impasse.

Rauner himself offered little hope for quick end to the stalemate, telling attendees at a luncheon in Quincy last week that it could be mid-January before its over.

Follow Kurt Erickson on Twitter @Illinois_Stage

0
0
0
0
0

Load comments