CENTRALIA – Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner said Saturday he supports keeping open a center for people with developmental disabilities in Centralia that his opponent is trying to close.
The Winnetka businessman, who faces Gov. Pat Quinn in the November election, met with relatives of residents at the Murray Developmental Center and told them they should have a choice in their family members’ care.
Quinn, a Chicago Democrat, has supported closing some state-run institutions, including the Murray Developmental Center, and transferring disabled residents into community-based care as part of a strategy to save money and improve the quality of care for residents.
Rauner’s campaign issued a statement Saturday claiming Quinn decided to close Murray Center “without ever visiting the facility.”
“It is irresponsible to close Murray Center unless we can make absolutely certain that the most vulnerable residents are being cared for in an environment that is as good as – or better than – Murray Center,” Rauner said in the statement. “Right now, Murray Center is the best option for these families.”
Quinn’s campaign spokeswoman Izabela Miltko called Rauner’s visit and announcement “shameless.”
“This guy will say anything depending on his audience, and now is playing politics with the quality of people’s lives,” Miltko said. “Today, Rauner showed a complete lack of care or understanding that people with disabilities deserve the choice to live more independently.”
Murray was scheduled for closure last year. But some parents of developmentally disabled adults are waging a court battle to keep open the center, which serves about 250 residents.
Those parents involved in the legal challenge don’t represent all families of the developmentally disabled, said Tony Paulauski, executive director of the Arc of Illinois, an advocacy group for people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. He said most families support closing “antiquated state facilities.”
“Young families I meet with, the last thing they want is to have a son or daughter in an institution,” Paulauski said.
Paulauski said the quality of life is better in small community living arrangements such as group homes, which can provide personalized care.