First Ever Scorecard Grading Illinois Legislators' Disablity Support Stances

Nov 2, 2016

Credit Jenna Dooley/Ill Public Radio

Illinois legislators are being graded on whether they've helped or hurt people with disabilities. The scorecard is believed to be the first of its kind, and comes from an organization led by concerned parents.

It would seem that you'd be hard-pressed to find much that Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan have in common.

But on this issue, they both did pretty poorly, with a score of 50-percent.

Deb Hamilton, the mother of a 27-year-old woman with disabilities, organized the project through Illinois Parents of Adults with Developmental Disabilities. She says Madigan flat-out failed to vote on some of the bills most important to her group, while Rauner vetoed a few of them.

The governor says one plan is too pricey for Illinois right now. It sought to raise wages for people who care for disabled individuals in group homes.

"What's happening is employees are finding better paying jobs at target, Wal-Mart and McDonald's,” she said.

Hamilton says she hopes the scorecard will prompt legislators to think more carefully about choices that affect disabled people and their caretakers.

"I am hoping it will influence legislators' behavior, I'm hoping it will bring awareness to the specific cause itself, but also to create an awareness of what is really happening in Springfield," she said.

Legislators were ranked on ten bills. Some were widely supported, like a plan that allows disabilities individuals and their families to open tax-advantaged savings accounts. Others, like those affecting caretakers' wages, were more controversial. 

While a bipartisan mix of legislators were given "mediocre" ratings, there was a definite split on the peripheries, with all Democrats earning top scores; the lowest-scorers were all Republicans.