* SJ-R on Friday…
A 49-year-old drug treatment center that has seen demand for services rise during the nationwide heroin epidemic plans to shut its doors by early April because of payment delays associated with the ongoing state budget crisis.
The Wells Center’s 32 adult inpatient beds and outpatient programs will close the first week of April, and all 33 employees at the Jacksonville site will be laid off, unless the 20-month budget crisis is resolved, executive director Bruce Carter said Friday.
“I’m very frustrated, like many citizens are,” said Carter, 65, who has led the agency for 37 years. “You see real people suffering.” […]
The decision to close, Carter said, was “directly related” to payment delays associated with the state’s lack of a permanent budget since July 2015. […]
Wells Center, serving 500 clients per year with an annual budget of about $4 million, is owed almost $1.4 million for services provided since July 2016, Carter said. The money owed includes funds held up by the lack of a permanent state budget and payments delayed by Medicaid managed-care companies, he said.
* SJ-R on Monday…
Aides to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner are blaming Democratic Comptroller Susana Mendoza for failing to ease some of the financial stress on a Jacksonville drug-abuse treatment agency caught in the political crossfire of Illinois’ budget crisis. […]
“It’s outrageous that Comptroller Mendoza is currently sitting on” the money “that she has refused to release,” Demertzis said. “We urge the comptroller to release these funds immediately to ensure the Wells Center can continue providing critical services.”
Contacted by The State Journal-Register, aides to Mendoza wouldn’t commit to issuing $345,000 in payments right away to Wells Center but said they would try to help as much as possible.
OK, so the Rauner administration wants the comptroller to release millions of dollars for a computer system upgrade and dismisses the comptroller’s complaints that doing so would hurt social service groups, but the Rauner administration also complains that the comptroller isn’t sending money to a drug treatment agency even though the current bill payment backlog is currently $12.4 billion in the red.
There may very well be some games being played here. I can’t say one way or the other. But I do know that the comptroller can’t print money. Just because we have checks in the book doesn’t mean there’s money in the account.
* Also, scroll down…
If a check for $342,000 from the state arrived in the next few days, Wells Center’s board would meet and potentially postpone a closure, he said. But the problem of not knowing when the budget stalemate will be resolved remains, he said.
“What’s the prospects of them passing a budget in the next few weeks?” Carter asked. […]
Also included are payments being processed and evaluated by the Illinois Department of Corrections but not yet sent to the comptroller’s office for payment, he said.
The comptroller can’t process vouchers that haven’t even been submitted.
…Adding… This is, unfortunately, probably the best hot take on this topic I’ve seen…