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Politics & Elections

Supporters of Murray Center Urge Gov to Allow Funding

Supporters of Murray Developmental Center in Centralia are urging the Governor to sign the state budget and keep the facility open.

The legislature, last month, sent Governor Pat Quinn a state budget that provides funding to keep Murray Center and other state facilities open through the end of the 2013 fiscal year that the Governor wants to close.  In a letter to the Governor, the Murray Parents Association asks Quinn to listen to the community's desire and keep the center open. Association president Rita Winkler says many residents have been unable to find appropriate housing if Murray closes.  Winkler says many Murray family members made repeated attempts to meet with the Governor in Springfield to discuss their concerns.  But Winkler says Quinn refused to meet with any members of the Murray Parents Association. Winkler says 275 individuals currently reside at Murray Developmental Center. She says several families have made previous attempts to live in group homes, as the Governor proposes, only to result in calls to the police, medical crisis, and psychiatric hospitalizations. Winkler says she and the other parents of Murray Center residents are concerned about where their children will be taken if the facility closes. She says there are stories about how some of the residents at the Jacksonville Developmental Center have been moved into community settings which are not equipped to handle their special needs. Winkler says there are many Murray residents - like her son - who require around the clock attention.

Governor Quinn wants to phase out Murray Center and close the facility by the end of November 2013.  The center provides more than 500 jobs to the region and has an annual operating cost of about $41 million.  An economic impact study indicates that closing the facility would result in the Centralia area losing 800 jobs and $63 million in wages.   Governor Quinn also wants to close the Jacksonville Developmental Center.  The Governor estimates closing both facilities would realize about $23 million in savings for the state in FY 2014.  If Governor Quinn's plan is implemented the Department of Human Services would lose more than 12-hundred jobs and close 4 mental health facilities.  Governor Quinn says individuals with mental health needs would be better served by community-based care as opposed to residing in state institutions.

Governor Quinn has not indicated if he will sign the state budget as is, or if he will use his veto power to eliminate funding for those facilities he wants to see closed.