The organizations that help people with autism are still smarting from a state funding cut, but they say they have the ear of state lawmakers. The governor cut the $1 million that was due for autism organizations for the rest of this year, and is proposing to eliminate the entire $4.3 million they had been getting for next year.
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Matthew Miller, who gets services for his 3-year-old son at the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorder at SIU in Carbondale, says he’ll be in a bind. “They’re the only game in town for us. If they are to close, which sounds imminent at the beginning of the summer, there will be nothing for 200 miles. We’ll have to go out of state to get the services he receives at SIU,” he said at a news conference in Springfield, where advocates gathered to push lawmakers on the issue. Advocates say lawmakers are listening and they hope the governor will. “Maybe the governor will hear what we are saying because to lose the TAP (The Autism Program) funding would just be devastating across the state of Illinois,” said Debra Vines, who runs The Answer Inc., an autism program in Forest Park. They say these programs actually save the state $7 for every dollar spent. The Illinois Senate passed a measure to restore these funds and others social service funding cut earlier this month by “sweeping” special funds that have extra money in them, but the House has not acted on that.