Letter: Legislature needs to face up to its fiscal responsibilities

The recently passed budget sent to Gov. Quinn has the potential for being a disaster for the residents of south Kane County who have mental illness, developmental disabilities or substance abuse disorders. For cuts of 14 percent to be considered to a community service system that already ranks 51st in the country is unfathomable. Do these residents rank so low on the priority list for state legislators? Are we saying that, as a state, we are incapable of caring for our most vulnerable citizens? Should we be advising these neighbors to move to Wisconsin or Ohio? I’d really like answers to these questions.

The budget passed by the legislators is totally inadequate to serve the residents of Illinois. Borrowing money is not the answer. Putting off paying your bills is not the answer. It is outrageous that the state’s vendors, many of them not-for-profits who have to borrow money to meet payroll, are floating $3 billion of the state’s debt. One time fund transfers are not the answer. Cuts to human services are not the answer. The entire DHS budget is only one third of the state’s deficit. You do not need to be an accountant to figure out that more revenue is necessary.

What is needed is a legislature that is willing to face up to its fiscal responsibilities to adequately fund public services, regardless of the political consequences. The passing of this totally inadequate budget, the consequences of which aren’t even known yet, is far from the best work done in Springfield in recent months.

The families of the thousands of residents in south Kane County rely on these services to live “normal” lives. They will remember this summer of 2009 as the “Lost Summer.” The summer they lost services. The summer they lost their independence. The summer they had to change their lives because the state legislature couldn’t agree on a fair budget. The summer their loved one lost measurable quality of life. This Lost Summer will be remembered vividly by these families and their friends when primary elections roll around this winter. Memories of their summer will last a long time.

Jerry J. Murphy, Executive Director
Mental Health &
Mental Retardation Services, Inc.