Savings cost our weakest

August 2, 2013 

We're not big fans of state government taking on new responsibilities, especially when it is stretched past breaking by its current responsibilities and too often fumbling them. But there are some decades-old responsibilities that we expect state government to handle deftly. One of those is caring for its most vulnerable residents.

A judge temporarily stopped the state from moving the remaining 230 seriously disabled residents of the Warren G. Murray Developmental Center in Centralia. About 40 were already moved, some of them supposedly without being allowed to say goodbye or after being lied to about their destinations.

We're not experts in the care of the profoundly disabled, but we've heard from plenty of parents whose adult children are in the Murray Center. They have been fighting to keep it open because they are convinced the care received at the center is best for their children and even saved some lives.

Gov. Pat Quinn claims closing the center cuts the annual cost per person in half to about $120,000 a year and improves the quality of life for the disabled adults.

However, scattering the residents just leaves us uneasy about their welfare, wondering if their care will be monitored and doubtful whether abuses will be detected. Our reporters have documented the state's woeful record of even investigating disabled adult abuses when they are reported.

So while the judge reviews this attempt to empty the Murray Center, we collectively should ask, "What should we do for some of our state's most vulnerable residents? Where is the balance point between the cost of their care and what's best for them?"

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