- Published: Tuesday, August 30, 2016 10:00 AM
VILLA PARK – State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is gravely disappointed with the governor’s decision to veto legislation that would help caregivers for the developmentally disabled.
“The governor continues to stress the importance of a kind and compassionate Illinois, however, I fail to see how we are being kind or compassionate when we don’t pay direct service personnel a fair wage,” Cullerton said. “We all know that you don’t enter into this profession for the money. However, it’s important that we allow these workers the ability to support their families.”
The initiative, House Bill 5931, would have raised the minimum wage for direct service personnel to $15 an hour. These higher wages would have allowed DSPs to stay on the job with many families instead of leaving to find work that allows them to provide for themselves.
“Any time we can pass legislation to help our developmentally disabled population, it makes us a stronger and better state,” Cullerton said.
Cullerton recently pushed legislation that would help those struggling with developmental disabilities, including adding length of time as a factor to determine need for those on the Prioritization for Urgency of Need for Services (PUNS).
“The DSP workforce crisis is the sad and frightening reality of the 27,000 people with developmental disabilities served in the Illinois system. Our service system is crumbling,” said Kim Zoeller, President & CEO of the Ray Graham Association. “With the average wage of $9.35/hour, providers like Ray Graham Association struggle to recruit qualified DSPs. The work is physically demanding, emotionally draining and includes working with challenging and sometimes destructive behaviors.”
Illinois ranks 45th out of 50 states in spending on community services for people with developmental disabilities. The workforce crisis is so serious that a federal court monitor has found Illinois to be out of compliance with the federal Ligas Consent Decree that is in place to ensure access to appropriate services.
“It’s our duty to take care of those who provide vital services for our most vulnerable population. They should be compensated fairly,” said Cullerton. “By vetoing this legislation, the governor is working against the best interests of Illinois’ disabled population.