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Budget roundup

Saturday, May 31, 2008

* First up, Bethany Jaeger’s report

The General Assembly is expected to approve a state budget before the deadline, but the budget also is expected to contain a rather large hole. Madigan said the legislature’s job is to approve the spending authority. The actual spending is up to the governor. “If he feels that some of those numbers should be changed, he has a reduction veto.”

The state Constitution grants the governor the power to strike out portions of the budget or to reduce the amount of money dedicated to specific programs.

* Spending

Under one budget plan being considered, spending on regular state operations would jump $2.1 billion over the current budget. […]

The proposal would give universities a 2.8 percent increase over the current fiscal year and would fund an 80-bed expansion of the LaSalle veterans home.

The plan also would overrule Blagojevich’s earlier bid to close Pontiac Correctional Center by earmarking enough money to keep all of the state’s prisons open.

In addition, the spending proposal would add money to fully open the state’s unused maximum-security prison in Thomson, which was built in 2001, but never opened.

* Schools

It would give schools another $500 million, including nearly $150 million for two dozen schools to pay for long-delayed construction projects.


Hannig said the new budget does not include money to cover any pay raises for state workers who are members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The union and state are negotiating a new contract to replace the one that expires June 30. […]

Any pay raises that are part of the contract would have to be added to the budget later in the year, Hannig said.

* Revenues

Senate Democrats approved issuing pension bonds and sweeping money from restricted state funds to cover about $1 billion of the new spending. But neither proposal has passed the House, and Hannig was noncommittal about whether he thought they will be taken up there.

Senate Republicans also said the Democrats are assuming the state will collect $1 billion more in tax revenue next year, something they said is highly unlikely given the economic slowdown.

* Hole

But the deal could force Blagojevich to be the bad guy. […]

“Will the governor have to make some reductions? More than likely he will,” Trotter said, noting Blagojevich slashed more than $450 million in legislative projects last year. […]

The state constitution bars officials from passing a budget that spends more than they estimate will be available. But “estimate” is the key word. Legislators could use generous guesses at tax revenue coming in next year to say they’ve passed a balanced plan.

* Motivation?…

[Sen. Terry Link] contended there was an Obama factor that also helped move legislators toward a budget plan, knowing that a fracas among Democrats in the legislature where Obama once served would do little to help him.

“Everything we do here is going to be national, under a microscope,” said Link, a close Obama friend.

“That’s why it’s important that [Saturday] night, this gavel is hit and we’re out of here.”

* Prepare for the worst?

Madigan offered no reason for optimism that the legislative loose ends could be tied up by tonight, telling reporters to “plan for the worst” and blaming his nemesis, Blagojevich, for the lack of legislative cohesion.

“He’s now looking at the consequences of a six-year policy of tearing people apart,” Madigan said of the governor.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - problem - Saturday, May 31, 08 @ 8:12 am:

    Madigan is backed into a corner, trying to deflect all the blame off him.

    I have never seen such a full court press from him when everyone else is playing nice.

  2. - Disgusted - Saturday, May 31, 08 @ 10:06 am:

    I think the real reason they want this done so quickly and will fix the fall-out later is because they want to get to the Democratic National Convention to be part of the photo-ops at the Obamarama. They don’t care a hoot about any of us serfs.

  3. - wordslinger - Saturday, May 31, 08 @ 11:34 am:

    Looks like they’re going to put it on the governor.

  4. - WORKING STIFF - Saturday, May 31, 08 @ 11:45 am:

    No cost of living raises for five years? How can the pols play the games they play with deferring their pay raises until next year when they will get a lump sum- which is not provided in the current budget and the Merit Comps get no cost of living raise for years? Sure there is the potential for an 1,800-$2,400 raise if you walk on water or play the game right. Meanwhile, the Administration handed out huge raises to the union workforce that is expanding exponentially as a result of the disgruntled ranks of Merit Comps. This leaves the Merit Comps remaining as lone soldiers trying to manage state operations impacted by these self obsessed pols standing in front of the cameras and press. When do the Merit Comps get a fair share?

  5. - Cassandra - Saturday, May 31, 08 @ 12:30 pm:

    I thought that merit comp, or some chunk of it, was entering the bargaining unit or maybe already has.

    Leaving aside some of the possible implications for state government of a management force which is represented by the same union as the employees they are managing, this should take care of regular raises for a significant cohort of MC

  6. - Frank Sobotka - Saturday, May 31, 08 @ 4:03 pm:

    There is really no reason that many state employees could not be part of the union. The only necessary exceptions of rank and file workers would be those whose jobs would be a conflict of interest with being in the union, like those charged with negotiating the union contract and benefits or running functions which a union member cannot do, like enforcing personnel decisions.

    ‘Supervision’ of (other) employees is not of itself a conflict with union membership.

  7. - Cassandra - Saturday, May 31, 08 @ 4:40 pm:

    If the supervisor doesn’t have the authority to enforce personnel decisions…say, for example,
    disciplining an employee for tardiness, then who?

    It’s probably too late….once again Illinois taxpayers haven’t been paying attention….but I suspect we will see a new layer of management to perform duties no longer performed by now-unionized MC supervisors.Presumably, these new managers could be political hires. More money for unions. More money for the politically connected. Less money for taxpayers.

  8. - Frank Sobotka - Saturday, May 31, 08 @ 4:48 pm:

    There’s a difference between ‘management’ and ‘Management’.

    Correction of minor infractions is not a ‘personnel decision’. If it rises to the level of actionable paperwork, then it’s going to require a signature from an actual (non-union) manager, say a ‘bureau chief’ or ‘division head’, and the superviser is just carrying out their job duties by informing the worker of the action.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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