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Some budget hostages finally released

Friday, Oct 28, 2016

* Ed McManus…

The State of Illinois has found a way to make back payments to a Wisconsin agency serving Illinois residents with developmental disabilities.

Chrishaven, a small agency in the La Crosse area, has confirmed that they have now been paid for all 12 months of Fiscal Year 2016 for the five individuals they were serving. The payments add up to approximately $200,000.

Chrishaven took over care of the individuals—four men and a woman—more than two decades ago because no agencies could be identified in Illinois to take them. The Chicago Sun-Times disclosed in February that no payments had been made for their care since Illinois’ budget impasse began in July 2015. Chrishaven had been scraping by, nearly depleting their reserves. Lynn Kay, who runs the agency, said Illinois finally recommended that she notify the individuals and their families that she could no longer serve them. In an interview for a newsletter published by McManus Consulting, a Wilmette-based practice serving disability providers, she said: “That day was one of the worst days of my life. It was horrible that we had to put everyone through such pain.”

The Sun-Times said at the time that there were 44 Illinois residents altogether who fell into this category and had been sent to various agencies in other states; it is not known whether any of those agencies have been paid.

Consultant Ed McManus praised the Rauner administration for coming through with the money. “The governor and the legislature both are responsible for allowing the impasse to drag on for so long,” he said. “But the administration deserves big credit for doing the right thing for the sake of these individuals, and it’s great that Chrishaven is staying afloat. But what a shame that these families had to go through this nightmare. It’s a disgrace that we have no budget, and that our most vulnerable citizens have been treated so shabbily!”

The individuals were given until March 31 to move out, but none of them was ready, and the Department of Human Services persuaded Chrishaven to delay the discharges. The families were offered funding if the individuals returned to Illinois, but that meant identifying Illinois agencies able and willing to serve them, not an easy task—not to mention the issue of uprooting them after all these years.

And then, finally, the funding came through. It is not known where the money is coming from. Comptroller Leslie Munger said previously she could not make the payments without authorization from DHS. DHS cannot issue a voucher unless there is an appropriation passed by the legislature and signed by the governor. In-state developmental disability providers are being paid under a court order, but that doesn’t cover individuals out of state.

Before the funding came through, the parents of one of the individuals, Keith Drazner, 39, of Highland Park, were able to find an Illinois agency to serve him—Clearbrook in Arlington Heights—and he has now moved back, but it has been difficult for him to adjust.

“This whole thing should not have happened,” said his mother, Sharon Drazner. “Keith was happy. The people who took care of him were excellent. The state had no cohesive plan to bring him back. He was like a movable chess piece—‘here’s a spot, let’s put him there.’ No one really cared. What a strange journey this has been. I hope it works out.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

7 Comments
  1. - Anon221 - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 11:17 am:

    “It is not known where the money is coming from.”

    If Munger paid this, shouldn’t she have some idea??? Otherwise we’d be hearing the chant of, “I can’t unless… There’s no money because… Without a voucher…”.

    I’m glad the organization has been paid in full, but still furious that they and the people they served were leveraged. Who granted them “clemency”???


  2. - Valerie F. Leonard - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 11:51 am:

    This should never have happened, and the Rauner Administration should not be praised for paying them. It is their job to ensure that the state’s obligations are handled, especially where “the least of these” is concerned. When will he get around to freeing the budget hostages based in Illinois?


  3. - Unsolicited Advice - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 11:57 am:

    The comptroller (or someone on her staff) has to know where the money is coming from to make a payment. Suggested edit for accuracy: take out “It is not known where the money is coming from.” Replace with: I don’t know where the money is coming from and won’t tell you if I asked.


  4. - G'Kar - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 12:18 pm:

    Would the fact that they are an out-of-state vendor have paid a role in getting them paid? Would the legal situation be different enough that paying them would avoid an unwinnable law suit? This is not snark, I am curious about why them and not one of the countless Illinois vendors who are still serving their clients while waiting to get paid.


  5. - Last Bull Moose - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 12:24 pm:

    The Comptroller should be required to provide the funding authorization and source. If it was not legal to pay it earlier, what changed? Did the State receive a dedicated gift?


  6. - Boo! - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 2:46 pm:

    This entire issue of payments to ALL owed $ is so old. Political one ups man ship, is what all this is about. I would not be surprised if a personal payment was made, seeing how nobody knows “nuting”. This has turned into a video game. Another Pension downgrade to boot. Mr. Speaker and Gov. Rauner, neither one of your plans are working. This waiting until after the election to see who wins more seats, which is costing north of at least $35 million is repulsive. Nobody is taking ANY responsibility for where we are at. Time to start packing and get out of Dodge.


  7. - wordslinger - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 3:58 pm:

    Good on the Sun-Times for going to bat for them. If they hadn’t, I don’t think it would have played out as it did.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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