From: John Gordon, Chairman ICBV
Date: November 2, 2004
Subject: BEPB spending plan concerns
I attended a meeting approximately four weeks ago with Deputy Director Bettye Odem-Davis, Mr. Nelson Grinnage, Mr. Bernie Wiseman, Mr. Paul Drake and Mr. Larry Jones to discuss some budgetary concerns. I was informed that due to the lack of VR funds we should hypothetically look at cutting our 2005 budget by $250,000.00 and our 2006 budget by an additional $250,000.00 which would give us a net reduction in spending of $500,000.00 or approximately 24% of our entire annual budget. I was instructed by Deputy Director Davis that there was no urgency in this but we should be prepared in case these funds are not available. She also warned that she did not want customer service or the growth in our program cut. The only way we can progressively implement Public Law 2420 is through growth. Spending cuts would only serve as a way to deteriorate the positive steps we are making in our priority on state property.
We then took this matter to a special budget committee in which we developed a way to cut our spending by approximately $250,000.00 in calendar year 2005. We are currently waiting to take this recommendation to the Illinois Committee of Blind Vendors for their review and approval.
Deputy Director Davis made it very clear that we should do this in a way that would least affect services to blind managers in our program. However, the more I think about this, there is no way this action will not have a negative impact on our program and services offered. Our budget or spending plan has not been increased in over 10 years so this new revelation only serves as a slap in the face to me, the managers and everyone else involved. I have no doubt in my mind that the timing of this is based on the fact that we are diligently working on putting together a retirement plan that could be paid for by vendor set-aside funds. I am also sure that the 250,000.00 additional dollars to be removed in the 2006 budget will come right out of our set-aside funds if at all possible.
Until we can resolve the many issues that I have brought forward in the past several years such as:
1. Lack of permanent staff position for the collection and identification of federal unassigned vending money,
2. Lack of legal assistance to defend the Randolph Sheppard priority on federal property and
3. Lack of hospitalization insurance for BEPB managers and their family members.
I (with the help of my committee and colleagues) will fight this issue as far as I need to. Although it was made very clear that this potential downsizing in our spending plan was not a directive from the Governor’s office, I need to know where exactly it is coming from. Our Deputy Director Bettye Odem-Davis made it very clear that she wishes our program the very best and agrees with its success. I would appreciate you contacting me to let me know who is suggesting this reduction in spending so we can take appropriate action.
I was thinking that a more appropriate meeting would be one where we could discuss an increase in spending and how we could place more disabled people as employees in our facilities and make them more accessible to people with other disabilities or perhaps that through facility development and expansion, we would make this program more attractive to potential clients in the future. I am not accusing you of any negative action directed at our program. However, I am seeking to find the parties involved.
Please contact me at your earliest convenience.
Cc. Deputy Director Bettye Odem-Davis
BEPB Administrator Mr. Paul Drake
ICBV Budget Chair Larry Jones
ICBV Liaison Pat Trueblood
Mr. Robert Humphreys Legal Council