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Autism Programs Blindsided By Rauner Cuts

Good Friday had an extra somber tone for parents and advocates of Illinois' autistic children.

Governor Rauner made a $1 million dollar budget cut to autism programs around the state that took effect immediately. Erica McAteer says her five year old Shawn and others would suffer greatly if programs like TAP have to pull the plug...

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Mother Wendy Rikas (Ree-kus) of Auburn, who has two autistic children, ages 3 and 4, in the program, became emotional at the prospect of the program shutting down...

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Rauner also has proposed terminating all of TAP’s $4.3 million in state funding for next fiscal year. House Speaker Mike Madigan told lawmakers last month that the budget fix for this fiscal year would preserve funding for TAP and other programs for Illinoisans with mental illness and developmental diabilities. The budget deal included funds for TAP and Madigan spokesman Steve Brown says Rauner’s move seems to conflict with what Madigan called for in the budget deal and he says the Speaker wants to maintain funding for the autism service providers and other social-service groups. Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly maintains Rauner didn’t go back on his word. Autism Program Network and TAP officials say the caseload of their programs continues to soar.

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