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Quinn “disturbed” and “saddened” by DHS scandal, pledges to take charge

Saturday, Jun 30, 2012

* Gov. Pat Quinn was asked today about the disgusting scandal at the Department of Human Services. As I’ve told you before, the Belleville News Democrat discovered that the DHS Inspector General refuses to investigate suspicious deaths of people in home care because dead people no longer qualify for government services.

Quinn said he was “disturbed” and “saddened” by the reports. The governor promised to “take charge” of the situation.

“We’re visiting with the department and its folks who work there to review their work and improve upon it,” Quinn said. “Work needs to be done.”

“I think whatever is necessary to get to the truth is what ought to be done. And I think that ought to be the policy of every inspector general in every part of state government,” the governor said.

Raw audio of the governor’s remarks…

* DHS already appeared to be backing away from its indefensible stance as of late yesterday. From the Belleville News Democrat

The Illinois Department of Human Services is “reviewing and re-evaluating the role” of its Office of the Inspector General following a Belleville News-Democrat report that the agency failed to investigate after 53 disabled adults died amid allegations of neglect and abuse.

“These are serious issues of concern. The department is currently reviewing and re-evaluating the OIG’s role, authority and practices under the program, both under current law and in coordination with law enforcement and other investigatory agencies,” Januari Smith Trader, a Department of Human Services spokeswoman, said in a statement released Friday.

The newspaper reported that, since May 2003, at least 53 adults were the subjects of statewide hotline allegations of severe neglect and abuse, were hospitalized on an emergency basis, and died, usually within a few days or weeks. But none of those deaths were investigated by the OIG, which is charged under a 2000 Illinois law with preventing the abuse of disabled adults ages 18-59 who live outside state facilities.

The reason stated for not investigating, according to OIG documents, is that once people die, they are “ineligible for services.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Quinn budget action roundup

Saturday, Jun 30, 2012

* Here’s the raw audio of Gov. Quinn’s press conference to announce today’s budget action…

* AP

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a state budget that cuts millions of dollars in school funding and public safety spending.

In one key change to the spending blueprint adopted by the General Assembly in May, Quinn vetoed financing for prisons he wants to close.

He announced plans Saturday to try to redirect those funds to the state agency charged with caring for neglected and abused children.

The Democratic governor kept the rest of the $33.7 billion spending plan for the 2013 fiscal year largely intact.

It cuts education funding by $200 million and child-welfare spending by $85 million.

* The Tribune had the scoop

During the fall legislative session, Quinn said he will press lawmakers to use those savings [from closing the facilities] to restore most – if not all – of a $50 million cut the legislature approved for the Department of Children and Family Services.

About half of the lawmakers’ cut would force the agency to reduce its staff of 2,900 by about 12 percent, or 375 workers. The remainder of the cut would eliminate contracts that provide services to children and families, the agency said. The budget trims by lawmakers came on top of a $35.3 million reduction Quinn had proposed.

The Tribune has reported that the caseloads for DCFS investigators are often double what they should be and in violation of critical terms of a 1991 federal consent decree that sets monthly limits on new cases for investigators. The agency also is failing to inspect more than half of the state’s day care facilities on an annual basis as required by law, the Tribune has reported.

Quinn called the consent decree dictating investigators’ caseloads “a landmark decision.” […]

While Quinn can choose not to spend money the General Assembly sends him, he needs lawmakers’ approval to redirect the money to DCFS.

* Sen. Gary Forby’s reaction to the Tamms closure

“I really don’t know what the governor’s thinking. Illinois’ prisons are already overcrowded. This decision is just going to make things worse. By putting the worst-of-the-worst, like the men at Tamms back into the general population, he’s risking the lives of guards and other inmates.

“He’s also not taking into consideration where these prisons are located. Closing Tamms will devastate Alexander County, which already has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state. This is just another sign that Quinn is governing from Chicago and turning his back on Southern Illinois.

“The governor also can’t spend the money from Tamms and other prisons wherever he wants. He needs the General Assembly’s permission. I don’t think he’s going to get it.”

* The news coverage of Quinn’s announcement that he was reducing the budget by another $57 million by vetoing money for prisons and other facilities has overshadowed this line item he vetoed

The amount of $11,300,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated from the Fire and Ambulance Services Revolving Loan Fund to the Illinois Finance Authority for Loans to Fire Departments, Fire Protection Districts, Township Fire Departments, or Non-Profit Ambulance Services.

That’s a pretty popular line item. The governor’s reasoning

This appropriation does not have revenues to support this expenditure, nor does the specified fund exist under current law.

*** UPDATE *** The governor’s budget office called back on Sunday to clarify that this was a double appropriation, and therefore the above language was superfluous.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* Quinn also used a reduction veto to close the Centralia Animal Disease Lab.

* More links…

* Tamms state prison for sale to federal government: In a letter dated Friday and obtained by The Associated Press, Quinn tells the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons that the 14-year-old supermax lockup would be a “valuable addition” to the U.S. correctional system.

* Quinn press release

* Efficiencies Fact Sheet

* “Rebalancing” Fact Sheet

* Reduction Veto Master List

* SB2474 Item and Reduction Veto

* SB2409 Reduction Veto

* SB2332 Line Item Veto

* Quinn signs bill cutting lawmakers’ pay

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

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