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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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

May 2013 E-Newsletter