As the push continues,
Quinn hopes to move 600 people out of
institutions over the next 2 1/2 years. That would eliminate the
need for up to four hospitals and developmental centers, aides said.
Quinn's office emphasized that the goal is to improve quality of
life for people who depend on the state for care. But doing away
with costly institutions should also save money. They predicted
closing facilities in Jacksonville and Tinley Park, which together
employ about 550 people, would save nearly $20 million.
Many advocates for people with mental illnesses and disabilities
support more use of community care and less emphasis on
institutionalizing people. But some family members fear the change
will be mishandled or their loved ones will wind up in new
institutions that are farther from home. Unions and local officials
generally oppose closing institutions because of the loss of jobs.
"It's wrong to cut mental health and disability services for men
and women in dire need," the American Federation of State, County
and Municipal Employees said in a statement.
The administration presented the plan as a final decision.
No public hearings are planned, said spokeswoman Brie Callahan,
and there's no need for a review by the legislative panel
responsible for issuing advisory opinions on proposals to close
state facilities. Lawmakers and the public got their chance to speak
out last year in a series of hearings on a broader Quinn closure
plan that ended up being shelved, she said.
"Ultimately, this is an executive branch decision," Callahan
said, "but we've done it with a lot of input from the General
Assembly and a lot of responsiveness to the concerns they raised
with us in the fall."
[to top of second column]
The Legislature's Commission on Government Forecasting and
Accountability recommended in November that the Tinley Park hospital
be kept open, partly because of the need for mental health services
in Chicago's southern suburbs. The commission also voted against
closing the Jacksonville facility, citing its importance to the
However, those recommendations involved quick shutdowns in
response to a lack of money. Lawmakers eventually supplied the money
and the closures were canceled. It's possible the legislative
commission might have reached different conclusions if it had been
looking at a long-term plan like the one Quinn offered Thursday.
The announcement was made while Quinn was on a trip to
Washington. Callahan said it was pure coincidence that details came
together when Quinn was unavailable to present the decision himself.
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