04042017CM0125Without a plan to address problems of inadequate pay and staff shortages, the workers who care for those with developmental disabilities are struggling just to keep the state’s most vulnerable people safe, said State Sen. Pat McGuire.

In a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, McGuire told Department of Human Services Secretary James Dimas that non-profit providers like Cornerstone, Trinity and Easter Seals are losing staff from group homes to local warehouses and distribution centers.

Low reimbursement from the state limits the starting wages of group home workers to $9.35 per hour, while some logistics companies are paying starting employees as much as $15.

“As a result,” McGuire said, “group homes are short-staffed, the remaining staff members are working up to 70 hours a week, and the emphasis now is solely on safety, on keeping residents alive, rather than on finding job opportunities and other community activities for group home residents.”

Dimas revealed that the governor’s only plan to raise these workers’ wages relies on the Senate’s Grand Bargain bipartisan compromise, which the governor to date opposes. The department has nothing in its own budget to address the situation, nor could Dimas identify a specific hourly wage for group home workers the administration deems to be fair.

“Secretary Dimas strikes me as an honorable man,” McGuire said. “But his boss, Gov. Rauner, looks to be ignoring the risks created by underfunding group home disability support workers – unconscionable, unnecessary and unacceptable risks.”

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January 2018 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year!

I hope this finds you well. I want to give you the status of important issues facing Senate District 43.

Jobs

The 43rd District is poised to add jobs to support correctional programs which increase investment in Will County and will lead to safer communities.

The Illinois Department of Corrections expects to increase staffing at the Joliet Treatment Center (formerly Illinois Youth Center-Joliet) on McDonough Street. Currently about 20 offenders are there for treatment of mental illness. The facility has been repurposed to handle as many as 450.

In addition, Corrections is looking for a site in Will County to build a $150 million, 200-bed hospital. This will put local building trades members to work and, upon completion, employ scores of health care and support personnel.


College

Twenty years ago, Illinois higher education was ranked near the top nationally. But, 736 days without a state budget hurt our students, schools and economy.

The budget impasse ended when Democrats and Republicans joined together to override the Governor's veto. In that same spirit, 11 colleagues and I from both parties and both chambers have formed a higher education working group. We're examining what needs to be done to make Illinois higher education again top-notch and affordable.


DCFS

Our Illinois Department of Children & Family Services faces severe challenges.

Nine-month-old Cherish Freeman died Christmas Eve of violent injuries inflicted in a Joliet motel room. Only 15 months earlier, Cherish's mother had voluntarily put her children into DCFS' Safe Families program for three months. Last April, seventeen-month-old Semaj Crosby was killed while her mother was receiving Intact Family Services through DCFS.

Community organizations and elected officials continue to press DCFS for answers about its Intact Family Services program and Semaj Crosby's death. We now are asking DCFS tough questions about its Safe Families program and Cherish Freeman's death.

Trucks

WJOL program director and Channahon Village Trustee Scott Slocum will host a town hall meeting at 6:00 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 11 at the University of St. Francis in Joliet on the hazards created by the enormous number of trucks serving our area's intermodal facilities, distribution centers and warehouses.

Manufacturers, shippers and warehousers must be making good money routing global trade through our area, or else they wouldn't be here. However, we who live here are paying a steep price in highway safety and maintenance. Let's hope the Jan. 11 town hall meeting leads to a local, state and national initiative to solve this problem.

***

The 2018 session of the Illinois Senate begins January 30. We are scheduled to meet on 52 days before adjournment May 31. You can check the status of legislation, see committee schedules and more at www.ilga.gov.

Please contact me by email through www.senatorpatmcguire.com or by phone or mail at my Crest Hill and Springfield offices to express your opinion, schedule a visit, or request help.

Sincerely,
Pat McGuire
Pat McGuire, State Senator
District 43

For the Common Good

August 21, 2015

Dear Friends,

You’ve probably read that over 80% of the State of Illinois Fiscal Year 2016 budget already is out the door or on its way out the door due to various legal requirements.  That means public schools are getting their state aid, state employees are getting paid, and Medicaid claims are being paid. That’s all good.

However, that 20% of the budget not yet funded means the following people aren’t getting the help they need:

--Clients of human services providers such as Cornerstone;
--Kids who need child-care while their parents are working or going to school;
--College students who need state financial aid.

Governor Rauner and I have talked about the budget impasse. He insists that the General Assembly limit collective bargaining before he’ll sign a complete budget.

I think this is a harmful demand.  The ability of private and public employees to organize unions and negotiate contracts helped build the middle class in our state. At a time when the rich are getting richer and the middle class is shrinking, moving toward eliminating unions in Illinois is wrong morally, socially and economically.

Please urge Governor Rauner to set aside his anti-union obsession and work with members of both parties on a realistic budget which does not leave any deserving resident of Illinois behind.

Sincerely,

April 2014 E-Newsletter

March 2014 E-Newsletter

November 2013 E-Newsletter