Tri States Public Radio Staff
Job Cuts A "Rebalancing"
Thu January 19, 2012
Jacksonville Developmental Center to Close
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn confirmed he plans to close the Jacksonville Developmental Center and Tinley Park Mental Health Center.
Quinn's office is calling the closures a "rebalancing."
The Governor plans to move institutionalized patients with developmental disabilities and mental illness to community-based settings.
In a statement, Quinn said it will improve their quality of life.
The closures will also help the state's bottom line. The administration estimates the state will save nearly $12 million a year by closing the Jacksonville facility, and another $8 million annually when Tinley Park is shuttered.
Much of those savings will come through laying off state employees.
Representative Jim Watson (R-Jacksonville) said that will mean turmoil for his community as well as for some of the legal guardians who have long entrusted their loved ones to be cared for in Jacksonville.
"If you were the parent, if it was one of your loved ones there, what would you know right now about their future, where they're going?” Watson asked. “What if you were a 75 year old sick parent and you know where your child is now. And you hear this, nobody has called you and talked to you about it. I don't think those people feel very secure at all."
Watson hoped the General Assembly will be able to stop the governor's plan. Quinn had moved to close seven state facilities last year but lawmakers reached an agreement to prevent that from happening.
Tinley Park is slated to close in July, with Jacksonville to follow in October.
Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard said he has heard threats to close state government facilities before. But he knew the latest announcement about Jacksonville Developmental Center was for keeps.
“This is the first time the governor's office has called me and said, 'It's going to happen.' So it hit home pretty hard today," Ezard said.
Ezard said he is "steaming mad" about the process. He said his community jumped through hoops at last year's hearings, but it seems like the governor already made up his mind.
Ezard said the community will try to help families cope with the transition. He said the city will also fight to protect its other state institutions: the Illinois School for the Deaf and the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired.
Quinn's office said it plans to close up to three more state institutions for the developmentally disabled within the next couple years.
Thanks to Illinois Public Radio