Governor Bruce Rauner’s office is now pointing fingers at Democratic Comptroller Susana Mendoza for failing to provide some state funding to the Wells Center in Jacksonville.
The local drug abuse treatment facility announced that it would be forced to close at the beginning of April if some relief payments weren’t received from the state.
WLDS-WEAI News caught up with Wells Center Executive Director Bruce Carter, who explains what the effects could be if the Wells Center is in fact forced to shut down.
“Because of the budget impasse, we are not getting payments from the state on a regular basis, as well as from several medicaid managed-care companies that we deal with. If we’re forced to close down, we’ll be laying off 33 people out of our Jacksonville office. We serve a little more than 500 people every year, so those 500 people will either have to seek treatment or go untreated,” says Carter.
The Wells Center is owed close to $1.4 million dollars from the state during the 20-month long budget impasse.
According to the State Journal Register, Rauner spokewoman Eleni Demertzis said yesterday that the Wells Center might avoid closure of Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s office immediately issues $342,000 in state funds, which has already been appropriated through the state’s stopgap spending plan or authorized by a court order.
Carter says he’s focused on doing whatever he can to keep the Wells Center afloat.
“Right now, all my efforts are spent on keeping the Wells Center open. We felt that the responsible thing to do was to shut down because we can’t continue to build up liability, but we’re doing everything we can to keep these services available in Jacksonville,” says Carter.
Ultimately, Carter says it’s obvious that the state needs to pass a balanced budget.
“Well we need to get a budget, that’s obvious and this has happened to us and unfortunately will happen to other organizations. The unfortunate thing is that people who need treatment and don’t get it always end up in more expensive systems. They end up in county jail, they end up in prison. They typically don’t get better by themselves, they need help, and it’s going to cost everybody more,” explains Carter.
On top of the $342,000, the Wells Center is owed around $1 million in Medicaid payments from managed-care companies that are also awaiting payments. As for what will come next, Carter says the Wells Center is “going to keep their options available.”