While Governor Pat Quinn says the move will improve life for people with disabilities, State representatives John Cavaletto and Charlie Meier who have led the fight to keep the center open both spoke on the Illinois House Floor Friday about the closure.
Meier, Cavaletto and fellow house republicans Mike Bost, and Dwight Kay, as well as House democrats Jerry Costello II, Al Riley, Brandon Phelps, Ken Dunkin and Daniel Beieser, interrupted proceedings on the House floor Friday, at which time Meier asked members of the House to pray for residents of Murray and their loved ones, calling it a sad day in Illinois.
Meier said Quinn is ignoring the needs of the developmentally disabled residents of the Murray Center, saying many of the residents have been told they are too developmentally disabled to live in community living arrangements and many have been bounced from CILA to CILA without success.
He told the House that the Governor says he wants to change the status quo, but he says police reports will show the closure places the residents of the Murray Center at risk.
“It is not a question of if, but when, residents will die because of the move and when that happens the responsibility will fall upon the Governor and his staff,” commented Meier.
Costello and Beiser assured House members the support of keeping the Murray Center open is bipartisan and they noted the tragedy of the facility closure that will hurt the most vulnerable of Illinois citizens. Kay called the decision for closure “unconscionable.”
The first individual transitioning out of the Murray Center will move to a Community Integrated Living Arrangement (CILA) located in East Central Illinois.
The Director of Developmental Disabilities for the state says they do not place individuals in settings until they are properly equipped to handle their specialized needs and have gone through required training.
Kevin Casey says they are working closely with families and guardians using a person-centered planning process to ensure safe transitions for residents of Murray Center.
State officials say numerous studies show that individuals living in the community have a better quality of live than those living in large institutions. They also note the cost savings. While an average cost for Murray Center is $239,000 per year, the state reports the estimated cost of a resident living in the community is $120,000.
The Murray Center Parents Association and others against the closure of the developmental disability centers have filed a federal lawsuit against the state to stop the closure.
A legal motion is currently pending in the federal case, and asks for a preliminary injunction to stop the closure until a decision is made regarding the closure.
Murray Center has 259 residents and 528 staff.