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Topinka unveils her list of “painless” cuts

Wednesday, Jan 26, 2011

* I told you last week that Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka had boasted that she could easily find $1 billion in painless cuts to the state budget that nobody would miss. I asked for the list, and I received it late yesterday…

· FISCAL OFFICE CONSOLIDATION ($12 million in savings): Combining the offices of Treasurer and Comptroller will save an estimated $12 million annually – and while we’re at it, let’s look at the Lt. Gov’s office and all the other unnecessary layers of government that exist in Illinois.

· UNIVERSAL PRESCHOOL ($100 million in savings): If we roll back this Blagojevich giveaway and require financially-able families to pay for preschool, the state would save an estimated $100 million.

· SENIORS RIDE FREE ($40 million in savings): The bill to eliminate free rides for financially-able seniors is currently on Governor Quinn’s desk – I hope he signs and saves $40 million for the state.

· LATE PAYMENT PENALTIES ($60 million in savings): The recently passed tax hike budget plan allows for 2-percent in annual growth. If we eliminate that extra spending and instead use the dollars to pay down our bill backlog, we would save the $60 million spent annually on late payment penalties.

· MEDICAID ELIGIBILITY ($480 million in savings): By moving Medicaid to a managed care system and making slight adjustments to eligibility requirements, we would save $480 million annually.

· FEDERAL TAX COLLECTION COOPERATION ($30 million in savings): The state is considering a tax collection cooperation plan with the federal government where we withhold refunds until each other’s delinquent taxes are collected. Maryland conducted a similar pilot program and collected $22 million – we estimate Illinois would get at least $30 million.

· CAPITAL PROJECTS ($30 million in savings): The state plans to spend $65 million on capital projects this year – if we scale that back to $35 million we would save the other $30 million.

· SENIOR HOME HEALTHCARE ($120 million in savings): By improving access to home health care for seniors, we would save on nursing home costs. We project it would save $120 million annually, and that number will go up as the population ages.

· MERCHANT SALES TAX PAYMENTS ($60 million in savings): Illinois allows retail merchants to retain a portion of the sales tax they collect (1.75%) throughout the year. By cutting that in half, we would save $60 million annually.

· ELIMINATE AMTRAK SUBSIDY ($26 million in savings): Illinois cannot afford to continue its subsidy to Amtrak – if that is eliminated, the state will save $26 million annually.

· ELIMINATE CAPITAL LITIGATION TRUST FUND ($20 million in savings): The General Assembly has voted to repeal the death penalty. If Gov. Quinn signs the legislation, the state would realize savings in the Capital Litigation Trust Fund.

* OK, first of all, Republicans love to attach big numbers to Medicaid savings without really explaining what they are, and half of Topinka’s billion dollars is saved via Medicaid. I asked for a breakdown, but haven’t received it yet. Also, kicking people off the Medicaid rolls would not be “painless” for those folks. And a widely hailed bipartisan Medicaid reform bill signed into law yesterday would save between $624 million to $774 million over five years. It’s not clear at the moment if any of those Topinka reforms overlap.

* The Amtrak subsidy is a favorite target of Republicans without a train station in their districts. Bill Brady had a station in Bloomington, and he was and is very pro-train. But to put this into perspective, I checked a few sources online and found one which has the cost of milling and resurfacing a four-lane rural interstate highway at about $1.2 million a mile. So, if this estimate is about on-target for Illinois, getting rid of the Amtrak subsidy is equal to repaving less than 22 miles of Interstate 55.

The suggestion of abolishing the Capital Litigation Trust Fund to realize savings is one brought up by fiscal conservatives who were mostly agnostic on the death penalty. It’s an interesting argument, but notice there’s no declaration of where she stands on the abolition bill.

Also, good luck with that battle against the Illinois Retail Merchants Association on the sales tax collection fee. It’s been tried a dozen times at least and has always failed.

* Response from Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget office…

We appreciate Comptroller Topinka’s efforts to offer specific examples on how to further reduce state spending and we will take these suggestions into consideration. Governor Quinn has reduced appropriations by $3 billion since taking office and will continue to work with legislators to make further reductions to save taxpayers money. The Governor’s budget address will take place on February 16.

* Meanwhile, Kevin McDermott reports on new legislation introduced by the House Republicans

Illinois House Republicans have already filed a bill to repeal the state’s new income tax hike, which was passed earlier this month in the final hours of the lame duck session of the last General Assembly.

The bill (HB175) doesn’t have the proverbial snowball’s chance in you-know-where of getting even a committee hearing, of course. Democrats still control the chamber and aren’t about to play games with the tax hike, which they barely squeezed into law in the first place.

Rolling back the tax hike isn’t ultimately the point of this bill. The point is so that co-sponsors like state Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon, can send press releases like the one we got this morning– “Kay Introduces Legislation to Repeal Tax Increase'’ –which doesn’t mention anywhere in it that he’s one of a couple dozen GOP co-sponsors of the thing. Which means there are likely a couple dozen press releases under those other lawmakers’ names, going out to their local papers, each one similarly claiming credit for spearheading this doomed expedition.

(In fairness to Kay and the Repubs, this is standard practice in Springfield, and no one’s better at it than Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.)

There is also not a single appropriations bill introduced by the Republicans to pay for this income tax hike rollback. Don’t expect one, either. Instead, expect lots of press release reprints like this one in the Carmi Times

“…Sadly, the Chicago Democrats who passed the measure have no recognition or remorse for the severity of their actions on citizens struggling to make ends meet. Worse yet, it will not solve our long term structural deficit.”

Your thoughts on all this?

- Posted by Rich Miller        


66 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 9:56 am:

    Kudos to JBT for putting something down on paper at least to get the ball rolling. The devil is in the details, of course, but let the discussion begin.

    In addition to Medicaid details, I’d very much like to see more regarding Senior Home Healthcare.

    That, to me, would be the best of both worlds — saving $120 million and keeping seniors in their homes. If it can be done, we should go for it.


  2. - Bill - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 9:56 am:

    Sadly, the Chicago Democrats who passed the 31 billion pork bill have no recognition or remorse for wasting millions of dollars on downstate roads to nohwere, downstate minor league base stadiums, renovations for downstate schools and colleges with declining enrollments, and other useless projects that the taxpayers in the northern part of the state who pay for this stuff will never even see, let alone use.


  3. - just sayin' - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 9:57 am:

    Isn’t Topinka going to get a double-dip pension? How about cutting that?

    And the tax repeal talk with not even an attempt at coming up with an alternative budget is beyond irresponsible behavior by those Republicans playing pander bear on this issue. I can accept them not being very smart, but it’s so insulting when they assume we’re all idiots.


  4. - bored now - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 9:58 am:

    …because no one in chicago is struggling to make ends meet. what an idiot. i wonder if david reis has ever stepped into the westside or southside wards of chicago (not that all areas are poor). what a selfish, cold-hearted idiot (cleaned up my verbage for rich’s blog)…


  5. - bored now - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 10:00 am:

    i’m with just sayin’. if we capped second and third pensions to a single pension of 100% of the highest salary, i’d bet illinois would be in the black in no time!


  6. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 10:02 am:

    JBT had the best parties during the innaugral (thanks). She also has the best idea’s about cutting the budget. Isn’t it interesting that she is even involved with this?


  7. - Aldyth - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 10:04 am:

    I guess “painless” applies when it is someone else’s pain and not yours. Rather like appreciating that someone else is having a root canal instead of you.


  8. - Way Way Down Here - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 10:10 am:

    Agree or disagree, at least she put something concrete out there.


  9. - TimB - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 10:15 am:

    I guess I don’t see where Reis says that “no one in Chicago is struggling to make ends meet”. Seems that he’s talking about all citizens that are struggling.


  10. - cassandra - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 10:15 am:

    I’d like to see all the Medicaid details too, including the savings Quinn says he just implemented. Since all children in Illinois are still eligible for Allkids if they pay the premium required, it seems as though they were going to declare a few thousand adults (parents) ineligible based on a change in the income ceiling and also improve income and eligibility verification. To reach the savings they claimed, it seems as though an awful lot of folks would have to pay higher premiums, or, in the case of adults, go off the rolls because of ineligibility based on the prior income ceiling. This seems unlikely, but, if true, it suggests extremely sloppy management of this program, bordering on malfeasance.


  11. - gathersno - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 10:22 am:

    Add to the JBT list the downsizing and closure of the outmoded and costly state institutions for persons with developmental disabilities. Moving the residents to small, integrated, more normalized homes would save the state $2 billion over 10 years and provide more humane care for those needing it.


  12. - amalia - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 10:23 am:

    not clear on what she means about Senior Home Health care, but she’s wrong about preschool. we need more school for kids of all ages, not less. yes, good luck with IRMA!


  13. - MrJM - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 10:24 am:

    Cutting someone else’s Medicaid is “painless” in precisely the same way that raising someone else’s taxes is “painless.”

    – MrJM


  14. - downstate hack - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 10:28 am:

    Cut any where but my pet projects. Supposedly the Stimulus package spent hundreds of millions for high speed rail upgrades for Amtrak in Illinois, but Illinois still subsidizes its operation. No wonder taxpayers are confused and upset.


  15. - Jim - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 10:30 am:

    If we don’t have the money, how do we justify the kind of spending Topinka has targeted. People seem to think that any good idea should be funded, no matter what. There are limits, but too many people don’t seem to realize that. Notice how after the big tax hike, all the experts say that still isn’t enough to solve the problem.


  16. - Leave a light on George - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 10:30 am:

    =The suggestion of abolishing the Capital Litigation Trust Fund to realize savings is one brought up by fiscal conservatives who were mostly agnostic on the death penalty. It’s an interesting argument, but notice there’s no declaration of where she stands on the abolition bill.=

    Why do we care where the comptroller stands on the death penalty? She’s identifying savings to be had when(?) it goes away.


  17. - JN - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 10:31 am:

    > That, to me, would be the best of both worlds — saving $120 million and keeping seniors in their homes.

    I pity the situation where someone is too old to care for themselves, but a senior who is ready to admit that they require a nursing home is the exception. I would expect nursing home numbers to stay the same, while seniors who were barely getting by would now drive up costs in the new program.

    Not to say that I disapprove of the idea. As a liberal, I’ve never seen an entitlement I didn’t like. Thanks JBT!


  18. - Soccertease - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 10:35 am:

    Illinois already has a cooperative agreement with the Feds that offsets unpaid IL taxes against Fed refunds-for a small fee of course. Not sure where the additional $30 million is coming from. Does anyone know?


  19. - Secret Square - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 10:35 am:

    “Since all children in Illinois are still eligible for Allkids if they pay the premium required,”

    Not as of yesterday. The Medicaid reform bill caps All Kids eligibility at 300% of FPL. Currently enrolled families who now are over that limit (think there are about 3,000) have 12 months to find other insurance.


  20. - Sean Noble - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 10:38 am:

    We’ve already begun slashing state-supported preschool for 3- to 5-year-olds. Trying now to cut it for “financially-able families” wouldn’t save anything, because the program isn’t really chock-full of such families.

    The fact is, Illinois’ “Preschool for All” program still is serving children from at-risk (and usually low-income) families, who cannot afford services on their own. Right now, available resources are so limited that - according to the Preschool for All law - only those preK programs serving “primarily at-risk” families are able to receive state funding. The funding simply isn’t there to allow other preK programs to even take part.

    In fact, under-resourced preschool programs have been shrinking rather than growing in the past two years:

    * State-supported preschool was slashed by 10 pct in FY2010 (reportedly taking services from 5,000 kids), and

    * PreK payment delays in FY2011 already have forced the closures of programs serving more than 2,600 other kids aged 3 to 5.

    Continuing to cut early learning programs - for kids from birth to age 5 - actually costs us money in the long run. It adds to our long-range economic troubles and widens our budget deficit, rather than solving those problems. Here are some of the arguments, from a Nobel Laureate in economics:

    http://www.heckmanequation.org/system/files/121410_HeckmanIllinoisDeficitPieceFINAL.pdf

    – Sean Noble, Voices for Illinois Children

    Sean Noble, Voices for Illinois Children


  21. - Observation - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 10:41 am:

    Senior Home Health Program appears to be the already existing Community Care Program which provides home and community based services to seniors over the age of 60 who meet the financial eligibility and level of impairment requirements. The program is under the oversight of the Dept of Aging.


  22. - mao - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 10:41 am:

    These are not impressive ideas but at least they are specific relative to what we hear elsewhere. Most important, these amount to only $1 billion further illustrating just how much pain we’re in for to actually close this multi-billion dollar gap. In that sense JBT has done us a service.


  23. - PPHS - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 10:43 am:

    I learned a long time ago to “listen to Judy.”


  24. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 10:47 am:

    I’m willing to see the details as to who pays what, but as Amalia pointed out, I think we need more school in Illinois, not less — longer school days, longer school years, earlier school age.

    The societal returns on pre-school are off the charts. If some folks currently not paying for it can, fine. Lord knows I pay about $1,000 a year in “fees” above my state and property taxes for my kids “free” public education guaranteed by the Illinois Constitution.

    But let’s not throw out the pre-schoolers while we’re still funding “Member Initiatives.”

    Anyone have a dollar figure on those? The google doesn’t help.


  25. - cassandra - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 10:50 am:

    Also re: Medicaid, if I recall correctly, in earlier discussions on this topic, some questioned the presumed savings from managed care, saying that administrative costs were already quite cheap under the existing program. Also, is managed care the clear winner nationally in the best quality for least cost debate? Or are we talking lower quality care for dubious savings?


  26. - Irish - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 10:51 am:

    It seems to me that cutting the portion of the sales tax that small business gets would be counter productive in the current economy. I would think that Repubs as a whole would not be in favor of this.

    Also at a time when the push is for public transportation for less pollutants, less fuel use, and when we are working towards high speed rail do we want to be cutting subsidies to public transportation?

    Since we have not had a real Capital Project fund in decades I doubt that even the current project list will address the hundreds of cases of infrastructure that is in danger of collapse and that has resulted in facility closures or facilities that do not meet State and Federal laws and guidelines. I don’t believe that anyone in Springpatch understands the magnitude of repairs that are needed out in the field.

    JBT is the first Repub that has laid out specifics, and props to her for that.


  27. - cassandra - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 10:54 am:

    SSquare-

    Are there federal penalties for kicking kids off the rolls? I thought I read something about the feds wanting to rein in states who were looking at cutting people off Medicaid as a cost-saving measure.

    Anyway, kicking 3000 kids off the rolls is beyond ridiculous especially since kids are cheap to cover.

    And how can 3000 kids (I suppose including some parents in the 3000) save the money they are claiming. Young kids and their (young) parents are generally healthy.


  28. - just sayin' - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 10:57 am:

    Topinka ran on consolidating the 2 offices in her 2002 campaign for Treasurer. Once reelected, no follow through.


  29. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 11:02 am:

    Who feels the pain? Who should feel the pain? Can we accomplish the goal without anyone feeling pain? Everyone says we should do what’s necessary even tho someone feels pain. Then, when someone puts pen to paper all the aggreived parties leap up w/their impassioned pleas, supplemented by charts and graphs showing just how unfair the whole thing is. Everyone clucks their collective tongues, blinks and drops the whole plan as too painful for the underpriveleged party(s) and we all sit around and bemoan our plight.

    Politicians too fearful of the next election to do what is necessary to put the ship of state right due to knowing that the electorate won’t stand for their particular benefit being touched in any way. The electorate being so feckless that they, too, are willing to remain blind to the truth. And vote to protect the unprotectable.

    “Oy” doesn’t begin to describe the mess we’re in.
    “Sheesh” no longer is adequate either.
    We are beyond hyperbole, folks.


  30. - Responsa - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 11:04 am:

    Kudos to JBT for getting a discussion started about spending. Here is a woman with no discernible “agenda” beyond public service, who could be in retirement, hitting the garage sales and enjoying her family and pets. Instead she is right out in the fray trying to help our state survive. Illinois citizens are going to notice and appreciate this effort, I think, even if they don’t agree with all her suggestions.


  31. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 11:06 am:

    I am skeptical about her savings estimates on Medicaid reform, but am all for it in concept. All the other ideas are total winners which should be embraced. I like that this is a “non-partisan” list, unlike the federal level debate which boils down to defense versus social program cuts.


  32. - Deep South - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 11:18 am:

    ===useless projects that the taxpayers in the northern part of the state who pay for this stuff will never even see, let alone use.===

    Useless? I’d say “bite me,” but I’m too polite. BTW, my taxes went up, too.


  33. - JGatz - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 11:30 am:

    The Litigation Trust Fund has long been used as a crutch for prosecutors and defenders offices. The egregious abuses have been well documented down state. Just another cost saving brought through the abolition of the death penalty.


  34. - Jo - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 11:37 am:

    Congrats to Judy for putting this out. Congrats to her for demonstrating there is no such thing as $1 billion in painless cuts, and sometimes not a cut at all:

    · FISCAL OFFICE CONSOLIDATION ($12 million in savings) - Yes, do it. And she deserves a spot in Illinois government hall of fame if she successfully consolidates the offices while she is serving these 4 years.

    · UNIVERSAL PRESCHOOL ($100 million in savings)- This would eliminate state-supported preschool, which as Sean Noble mentioned, currently only serves at risk families who aren’t eligible for Head Start. Those families can’t afford private preschool. A cut, yes. Painless, no.

    · SENIORS RIDE FREE ($40 million in savings)- Someone needs to tell Judy that the cost of Seniors Ride Free isn’t born by the state, just the transit agencies. Unless she is referring to the half-fare reimbursement that has been around forever. So now she wants seniors to not even get the half-fare? Cut, yes. Painless, no.

    · LATE PAYMENT PENALTIES ($60 million in savings) - we can save a lot more if we pass that big bond to pay down our backlog. And this only materializes if she finds another 2% in cuts.

    · MEDICAID ELIGIBILITY ($480 million in savings): I thought IPI said Medicaid managed care would save us $2 - $5 billion annually! Why low-ball the fiction? Regardless, the only savings here would be the “slight” eligibility changes - which translates to kicking people off healthcare. Plus, if we enact ANY negative eligibility changes for federally-funded medical programs, we lose ALL our federal Medicaid money, per the new federal health care law. So that ain’t happening.

    · FEDERAL TAX COLLECTION COOPERATION ($30 million in savings): No problem here. But this ain’t a cut, its like the tax amnesty program - enhanced revenue collection.

    · CAPITAL PROJECTS - Deferred maintenance is old hat.

    SENIOR HOME HEALTHCARE ($120 million in savings): Yes, this is the community care program that Democrats have been pushing for years. Problem is, community care has been on the chopping block the past year or so, as the nursing home industry pushes for theirs.

    · MERCHANT SALES TAX PAYMENTS ($60 million in savings): You will probably have the same luck as Blagojevich did in trying to cap the Retailer’s Discount. Dave Vite will be in your office in 3, 2, 1…

    · ELIMINATE AMTRAK SUBSIDY ($26 million in savings): Again, tried before, and then had to be restored after all holy hell broke loose.

    · ELIMINATE CAPITAL LITIGATION TRUST FUND ($20 million in savings): This is wise, but was coming anyway. On the other hand, you still have those people who are on death row now, so maybe won’t be the full $20 million.


  35. - Louis G. Atsaves - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 11:40 am:

    Topinka was called upon to show where the $1 billion would come from and she came through.

    All cuts come with some measure of pain to someone somewhere. What is absolutely necessary vs. what would be nice to have should be the current guide.


  36. - Laughing_All_The_Way - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 11:40 am:

    Where does the idea that spending cuts will be painless arise? When the spending is approved it is always for some ‘must have’ program that will cause the sky to fall if not enacted. Well the financial sky is falling now and there are only two decisions that can be made; raise taxes even more or have the guts to make the cuts. Apparently many have not learned that you can not borrow and spend forever without having to pay for it all somewhere along the line.


  37. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 11:49 am:

    ===and while we’re at it, let’s look at the Lt. Gov’s office and all the other unnecessary layers of government that exist in Illinois.===

    Since Sheila Simon will be our last LG, I think she should begin the process of winding it down immediately by not fully staffing it and coming up with a plan to zero out the expenses incrementally over the next four years. It won’t save much, but it’s a start and it’s leadership.

    Consolidating other units of government may not save the state much money, but it will save taxpayers some money. That is one of the reasons I was a strong supporter of the Con Con. We need to moderning our government service delivery, consolidate where possible and remove redundancies. Unfortunately, that likely will require some constitutional changes. It won’t be easy, but it is needed.

    Props to Topinka for putting this out though. I agree with others who’d like to see greater investment in education, across the P-20 spectrum. Those investments pay enormous dividends for Illinois and it’s one area where we can dominate our neighboring states, especially in higher education.


  38. - This Little Piggy - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 11:49 am:

    More extremist ideas. She’s one rung below Brady when it comes to pushing the pain on others.

    Glad I voted for Blago in 2006.


  39. - siuprof - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 11:56 am:

    Ending the subsidy to Amtrac would end up costing other state organizations, however. for example, when i need to travel to Chicago for university business, a train ticket round trip is $125 to $160, depending on which train I ride. If I drive it is about 700 miles round trip, so about $350, plus about $30 to park my car overnight. There are lots of state employees who ride the train, so part of that savings is going to end up being paid out anyway-just out of another budget.


  40. - CoCo - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 12:01 pm:

    Good job, Judy!
    Here is a few more easy ones to add to the list:
    State cars
    Drivers
    Salary increases for Senate, Reps and employees


  41. - Hick-town - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 12:17 pm:

    Eliminating the duplication and bureaucracy that is the political dumping ground called CMS would be a tremendous start to saving money. There is no reason that the duties performed by CMS cannot be made on an agency by agency basis, and eliminate the duplication of government services.


  42. - Statewide - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 12:50 pm:

    Good to see an attempt made at a budgeting list, though others here have clearly pointed out the overall short-falls. But what is it with GOP politicians who use their first weeks in power to ask for cuts in programs for kids? Completely eliminate preschool education? And it is the second item on the list? Reminds me of conservatives in Congress who demand cuts to school lunch programs. You can almost do a count-down of the days for such a call after conservatives get some majority power in D.C.

    Preschool education is one of the most intelligent, most productive, most cost-efficient, most socially-conscious things anyone can do for kids anywhere, anytime.
    An elected official who doesn’t understand or care about that fact, reveals a partisanship that trumps reason.


  43. - Dwight - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 12:57 pm:

    Statewide…. Reread her proposal. It is not a complete elimination. It is about making those who can afford it to pay for it.


  44. - Nancy Shier - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 1:13 pm:

    Cutting preschool funding is not painless. Preschool for All serves mostly low-income children at risk of school failure, not families who can afford to pay for it. When passing the law, the General Assembly was very intentional in prioritizing at-risk children first. And that is how local programs are operating.

    Denying at-risk children access to preschool will cost the state exponentially more in the future. Without preschool, these children won’t be prepared to learn when they enter kindergarten. They’ll struggle throughout elementary school, will be more likely to end up in expensive special education programs, and will be less likely to graduate high school. Would we rather pay for preschool now, or all the costly social problems that result when children don’t succeed in school?

    Nancy Shier, Ounce of Prevention Fund


  45. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 1:13 pm:

    -Hick-town- @12:17 pm,

    I am not getting what you’re talking about. People have been talking about reducing redunancy in various agencies by centralizing certain functions common to said agencies thereby eliminating duplication. IT & HR services come to mind. You come in and say some duties that CMS is doing should be disseminated thereby creating cost savings. Please come up with some specifics so your idea can be properly assessed.


  46. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 1:24 pm:

    What Nancy Shier just posted @1:13pm is the classic example of identifying with your favorite program that may face cuts, describing what wonderful things it does, laying out the risks recipients face if the program funding is reduced and making the case that the program should remain intact.

    I won’t argue her points since I am not fully up on all the facts. Few people could argue that preschool programs do no good. However, Ms Shier, since there is only so much money to go around, and fully funding the preschool program will likely result in another program having their budget cut or eliminated, please tell us which program we CAN cut in order to preserve preschool funding. Please explain how cutting some other program won’t hurt the thousands of deserving folk who currently depend on same.

    Since I am certain that there are champions of all the various programs that the state funds, why don’t we just stipulate that all these programs are wonderful, work reasonably well, and deserve full funding. THEN, we try to determine which ones should be cut and by how much. Since all will argue vehemently that their program should receive full funding, and I doubt that anyone would be able to out-argue any other booster re the need to cut the funding for the other program, I would posit that across the board cuts are the best way to handle it since the pain is then shared by everyone.

    No special treatment - cut them all equally.
    That can include the state agency I work for, even tho I can present a powerful case why it should get a hefty increase in funding.


  47. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 1:58 pm:

    I like Judy, but:

    FISCAL OFFICE CONSOLIDATION wouldn’t take affect until after a Constitutional amendment, and probably 2014 at the earliest.
    ·
    UNIVERSAL PRESCHOOL Big pain for the middle class and all the caregivers that would be laid off, plus Republicans widely supported this program unless I’m mistaken.

    SENIORS RIDE FREE Yeah, done already.

    LATE PAYMENT PENALTIES By this same logic, Topinka should be supporting Quinn’s borrowing bill to pay state vendors; notice she doesn’t say where she’d cut future budgets…pension payments? Care for seniors??

    MEDICAID ELIGIBILITY Republicans didn’t even put this on the table in the recent Medicaid negotiations.

    FEDERAL TAX COLLECTION COOPERATION Thanks Judy, but sounds like the Governor is already on it.

    CAPITAL PROJECTS Yeah, the Appellate Court just killed this one…but you might want to check with your friends at the Teamsters and Operating Engineers before putting this in writing again.

    SENIOR HOME HEALTHCARE Illinois is already working on moving people out of nursing homes and into less restrictive settings I think, under a federal court decree. It will take time, however, and there will be no instant savings.

    MERCHANT SALES TAX PAYMENTS A better idea is capping payments so that small business owners remain whole but mega-retailers’ reimbursement is more reasonable. Let us know when you get Radogno, Cross and Rutherford on board with either idea. LOL

    ELIMINATE AMTRAK SUBSIDY The President wants to dump big money into high speed rail jobs, and you want to go the opposite direction? Seriously: Chicago is well-positioned to be the national hub for high speed rail jobs. It now takes about six hours to get from downtown Chicago to downtown St. Louis by plane, IF there are no rain delays. High speed rail would be much better for business.

    ELIMINATE CAPITAL LITIGATION TRUST FUND Um, we still have folks on Death Row…unless I’m mistaken, that money can’t go away until they do.


  48. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 2:14 pm:

    –No special treatment - cut them all equally.–

    Why? You have to stop thinking and can’t make priorities? It might be easier, but it’s not smarter.


  49. - A.J. Feeley's Clipboard - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 2:16 pm:

    DuPage Dan, I thought the whole point of the legislative process was to make some value judgments about what’s important. Across the board cuts suggest that you accept the judgment of comparative value made by a previous General Assembly, and just disagree about the overall resource level. Maybe that’s appropriate in some cases, but I’d argue that the General Assembly should take into account changing conditions each year and make value judgments on what’s important that year. Even if I disagree with its value judgments, I’d rather see that than across-the-board cuts.

    On the specific issue, I think the Comptroller wrong on the facts, as Sean Noble points out. And the politics are terrible, as this is a popular program. Indeed, as a gubernatorial candidate in 2006 Ms. Topinka proposed to increase its funding, and the population it serves hasn’t really changed much since then (although obviously the state’s fiscal condition has).

    I do agree with the commenters who give her credit for putting out a list. I may not agree with the list, but to the extent she provokes thoughtful conversation about resource use and allocation, good for her.


  50. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 2:20 pm:

    –Where does the idea that spending cuts will be painless arise?–

    Last week, JBT said she had a list of cuts that were painless and would go unnoticed. That’s where the idea arose. Her choice of words.


  51. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 2:39 pm:

    @- A.J. Feeley’s Clipboard - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 2:16 pm:

    The whole point of the legislative process is to make sure that the Nancy Shier’s of the world get their chance to lay out how horrible it will be when their program is cut. The GA will then wring it’s collective hands and chicken out of reducing the funding any of the programs and we are still in the same, sinking boat. What do you think is harder to do, sir?, cutting a funded program or putting toothpaste back into a tube?

    Do you really believe that the GA can make a comparative value judgement about any program and then put into place reasoned reductions in funding? Really? Maybe you just moved to Illinois or have been living in a cave, or something. The GA is not equipped, not willing to do this act. What makes you think they will do so in the future?


  52. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 2:40 pm:

    Enough with the attacks on Nancy. Somebody puts their name on a comment and you guys go nuts. Bannings will commence immediately.


  53. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 2:42 pm:

    I mean, seriously, does it make you feel like a big man or something to pick on a person who advocates for preschoolers? Are you people goofy?


  54. - Illinois Action for Children - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 2:47 pm:

    Regarding the $100 million cut for “universal” preschool - 100% of preschool classrooms statewide fall within the first funding priority: to serve primarily at-risk children. This program has provided a model for other states as the best way we can prepare children for success in school and later in life.


  55. - steve schnorf - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 2:47 pm:

    Many times yes, Rich


  56. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 2:49 pm:

    DD, I’m sorry, but VMan already has been cast for the role of Eyeore in this picture.

    C’mon, man. You have to try. We’ve spent two years in some weird Kabuki dance of doing nothing in anticipation of the 2010 election. Now’s the time to at least have some grownup discussion.

    Again, kudos to JBT for laying something down from the GOP side. Let’s hash it out. Madigan has certainly signaled he’s willing to on some heavy-duty issues like teachers and workmen’s comp. Quinn and the Dem GA members have made cuts and raised taxes. Keep going.

    And, by the way, let’s not give Cross, Radogno and their mushrooms a pass. The one license plate idea really doesnt’ cut it when it comes to a $15 billion deficit.


  57. - Jim F - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 3:08 pm:

    Re Medicaid Savings: Go to GOMB website. Click on “Governor’s Office of Management and Budget Three-Year Projection.” Scroll to “Other Resources and Adjustments. Note the $900 million in lower federal Medicaid match on the “Loss of Medicaid match from reform” line for the three fiscal years FY12-FY14. That $900 million matchs $900 million in state spending - OVER THREE YEARS.

    And tha’s before Managed Care kicks in.


  58. - Jim F - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 3:11 pm:

    Apologies for the typos.


  59. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 3:19 pm:

    I apologize for continuing to repeat Ms Shier’s name in my posts. I meant to only highlight the fact that no matter what program is being scrutinized to determine if cuts are appropriate there is a landslide of folk with determined pleas that the program is vital. I have seen many here complain that the GA can’t seem to decide which programs are deserving and which aren’t. I have also seen many here champion causes with powerful information and proof that a particular program is vital.

    I was clear in my post I was not targeting pre-school for children (=Few people could argue that preschool programs do no good.=). That was not my intention.

    I get it - many programs are vital. But, cuts must be made and so many are quick to point to other programs and not to their own. Cuts will happen. If the GA can’t get some cojones and do their job then across the board cuts will occur whether we like it or not.

    I have been involved in the preparation of dossiers from the agency I work for at a time when cuts seemed inevitable. If you could see how much time was spent proving how worthy and indespensable my agency was you would be amazed. I applaud JBT for her effort. More needs to be done by so many. The cuts so far are but a drop in a deep bucket. We have been informed here, and elsewhere, that the tax hikes are not going to stem the red tide.

    When all is said and done, I believe that, one way or the other, shared pain will occur. Be active and upfront about it or suffer the consequences when the house of cards collapses. Can anyone identify a single program they feel can be eliminated completely? How about a program that can be cut 50%? Anybody?


  60. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 3:40 pm:

    Word,

    I am flattered but I do not believe I am in the same league as VM. However, I checked and don’t see any rain clouds over my head.


  61. - spriddler - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 4:13 pm:

    Ah heck we’re going to go bankrupt anyway. I’m hearing that we have about $50 billion of pension assets with $8 billion going out net of contributions last year. There just is no way that you can pay out 16% of assets a year. Really nothing above 5% is sustainable barring a truly amazing decade long bull market. So my question is: If we are going to go broke anyway, why is the state confiscating more of my money now? Is delaying the inevitable for a year or two worth taking over $100 bucks a month out of my pocket every month. I certainly don’t think so, and I’m sure the restaurants,retailers, etc.. I visit would agree.


  62. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 4:37 pm:

    Apparently DD isn’t getting much work done today.


  63. - park - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 6:49 pm:

    Good for you Judy, welcome back. Don’t recall a lot of this from Hynes. Be ready for the ‘can’t cut anything’ pushback.


  64. - BF - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 8:41 pm:

    At least Judy is proposing something. Pat has been in office for two years and Judy for less than a month and she is able to show where cuts can and should be made.

    So Toni over at the Cook County Board and Judy in the Comptroller’s Office are clearly showing Pat up. Too bad a woman did not run for governor?


  65. - Cheswick - Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 9:37 pm:

    Finally, someone putting their list of cuts out there! Good for Judy, and for us.

    As to the FEDERAL TAX COLLECTION COOPERATION, unless tax scofflaws have a lobby I don’t know about, it really is painless. I’m pretty sure we’re already collecting for the feds. If we haven’t been sending our own liens back to the feds, we should be. Also, the administrative fee comes out of the taxpayer’s money, not the state’s.


  66. - Talos - Monday, Jan 31, 11 @ 11:15 pm:

    About Medicaid and managed care; this is not a new proposal. IL tried to implement this for medicaid clients about five years ago. The Dept of Human Services (IDHS) which administers medicaid eligibility failed miserably in the attempt which was another try to save money. IDHS caseworkers could not get medicaid clients to work with managed care. Medicaid costs are high because medicaid clients run to emergency rooms because they are more convenient and they get treated there unlike the attempt to find a doctor who will accept a medicaid card. Any caseworker will also tell you that if their clients could actually do the planning ahead that managed care requires and adhere to the rules, that they would probably not be medicaid clients in the first place because they would be far more responsible than your average client is. Good luck to IDHS trying this again given the current caseload levels and department understaffing!


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