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The law of unintended consequences

Thursday, Nov 17, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From Robert Okazaki at Avenues to Independence, which provides “homes, jobs, and social opportunities to hundreds of adults with autism, cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome and other physical, intellectual and developmental disabilities”…

Rich,

Lost in the higher profile news issues coming out of Springfield yesterday was the failure of the House to override the Governor’s veto of HB 5931 which would raise starting wages for direct care workers supporting people with disabilities in community programs funded by the state to $15/hour.

Just last week, Cook County voted to increase their minimum wage; Chicago started their increases last July. Please understand that I do not deny the need to improve wages for disability and human service workers statewide. However, I feel that in their eagerness to improve wages for lower wage workers, both jurisdictions have given Governor Rauner an unintended advantage in the fight for his Turnaround Agenda.

I administer a human service organization in Cook County supporting individuals with disabilities where the majority of our funding comes from the State of Illinois. Unlike other business that can raise their prices or reduce staffing to cope with mandatory minimum wages, the vast majority of my organization’s revenues and staffing patterns are controlled by the state. It has been 10+ years since any increases have been provided to our funding rates; I dare not go below their statutorily required staffing ratios less I lose my license to operate.

Many human service agencies in Northeast Illinois are facing this same dilemma. Each minimum wage mandate puts another straw on the bridge that supports human services in Chicago and Cook County. Without an increase in Illinois funding, current state supported services will collapse under the weight of these mandates.

Communities outside of Chicago/Cook still maintain a minimum hourly of $8.25. While not a liveable wage, human service organizations in these areas are not subject to the same financial pressures put forth by the mandatory increases.

Chicago/Cook legislators (overwhelmingly Democrats) have no choice but to seek relief for their area organizations in need of more state support. Governor Rauner and his Republican colleagues will not face the same pressure from their area constituencies. Unless they want to see a complete collapse of social services in their districts, Democrats will be forced to accept more of the Turnaround agenda

Chicago and Cook County, working to improve conditions for their low wage workers, will have fallen into an unintended consequence trap.

       

9 Comments
  1. - Dome Gnome - Thursday, Nov 17, 16 @ 10:01 am:

    The leap from DSP wage issues to the turnaround agenda is too big an intellectual stretch.


  2. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Nov 17, 16 @ 10:07 am:

    Diana and Bruce Rauner…

    Driving the wedge, driving that wedge, and making sure wages stay low.

    ===However, I feel that in their eagerness to improve wages for lower wage workers, both jurisdictions have given Governor Rauner an unintended advantage in the fight for his Turnaround Agenda.===

    This is the ball game. It’s not the people, the people served… it’s the Turnaround Agenda(?)

    It’s a shame.


  3. - Earnest - Thursday, Nov 17, 16 @ 10:23 am:

    It’s rough. In 2003 minimum wage was $5.15. The human service agency in town had a starting wage of $7.15. Even with the lack of increases and mind-boggling increases in the cost of health insurance and other costs, the agency now pays $1.10 more an hour as their starting wage. They went from starting at $2.00 over minimum wage to starting at minimum wage. They supplement the state with community suport, but can’t keep positions filled. They have minimum required staffing ratios as well. Meanwhile, the waiting list for funded services is 20,000 people strong. in the past, if one of the people they served moved out of state, the local person who needed services could move into that funded slot. Now, they go on a wiating list and stay on it (at this point, some five years and running). This also reduces the funding available to agencies.

    Can the state afford to increase this spending based on current expenditures and revenues? No. If we elect a Governor with a strong business background would they find ways to deal with this? No, so far.

    Ilinois can do better than the distract-while-you-starve-the-beast approach to higher education and human services. If we can’t do everything, lets cut services in a planful way rather than survival of the fittest. The fittest aren’t the ones most in need.


  4. - Mama - Thursday, Nov 17, 16 @ 1:33 pm:

    Maybe the Rauners can volunteer their services at the human service organization in Cook County supporting individuals with disabilities.


  5. - Randy - Thursday, Nov 17, 16 @ 2:16 pm:

    Given the state of Illinois’ financial situation, is it any wonder that the Gov and other responsible members of the legislature don’t see how the state can afford this increase.


  6. - Anonymous - Thursday, Nov 17, 16 @ 4:52 pm:

    “- Randy - Thursday, Nov 17, 16 @ 2:16 pm: ”

    Randy, people’s lives are at stake. Does that not matter?


  7. - Mama - Thursday, Nov 17, 16 @ 4:52 pm:

    - Anonymous - Thursday, Nov 17, 16 @ 4:52 pm:

    That was me.


  8. - JS Mill - Thursday, Nov 17, 16 @ 5:44 pm:

    =Given the state of Illinois’ financial situation, is it any wonder that the Gov and other responsible members of the legislature don’t see how the state can afford this increase.=

    Maybe they need their vision checked or they are being purposefully obtuse.

    Revenue


  9. - froganon - Friday, Nov 18, 16 @ 11:28 am:

    If we want our economy to hum, people need to make enough to survive and spend. Raise the income tax as we voted to do over a year ago. Pay down the deficit and make the minimum wage $15.00. Great economic results in California and Minnesota with these strategies


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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