Greising: Column: Illinois Is Still Shortchanging People With Disabilities, Despite Consent Decree

Illinois ranks very poorly in one ranking in providing services to adults with disabilities. And a study last year estimated Illinois would need to spend an additional $1.3 billion over five years to meet requirements of a consent decree. But Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s current budget makes clear he won’t meet the target.

Governor J.B. Pritzker speaks during his primary election night victory. (Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

BGA President David Greising writes every other week for the Chicago Tribune Opinion section.

Parents of children with disabilities learn to dread the day the bus stops coming.

Beginning at age 22, when people with disabilities “age out” of public school — literally dismissed on their birthdays — the school buses don’t pick them up anymore. That can begin a lonely life for many of the 20% of adults with some form of disability.

The challenges are great, and in recent years they’ve gotten worse. Illinois ranks 47th among the 50 states in providing services to adults with disabilities, according to one major tally. Illinois has operated under a court-monitored consent decree since 2011.

The decree recognizes that Illinois has not invested adequately in caring for disabled people and aims to strengthen the state’s public services so more people with disabilities can live and work full lives, within the general community where possible. But the state routinely misses targets set in the decree and has no viable plan to catch up.

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