* OK, now we have some real numbers to look at. The Senate Republicans held a press conference today to outline the cuts they’d like to make to the budget to put it into balance. You can read the Senate GOP’s new plan by clicking here. The Sun-Times has a good overview…
Items on the Republican chopping block include cutting $1.3 billion in Medicaid costs by tightening eligibility for health-care programs like All Kids and FamilyCare, which were both signature initiatives under impeached, ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
The GOP also proposed cutting school spending by 10 percent — or $725 million. The group expressed openness to freezing state-aid payments to school districts, scaling back poverty grants and trimming increases Quinn favors on early-childhood programs.
Radogno expressed support for state pension givebacks from existing workers that she said could yield $1.35 billion in savings for the state. Among them are requiring current employees to pay more toward their pensions, imposing the same pension reforms that went into effect Jan. 1 on new hires to the current workforce and setting up a 401(k)-style retirement program to which the state would provide a 6-percent match. […]
Other cuts Radogno and her caucus sought took aim at the state prison system, including ending $7 million in compensation to inmates that they can use to purchase “candy, cigarettes and cable TV.”
They want to stop funding the Illinois Arts Council, which is chaired by Shirley Madigan, wife of House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), because the cash-strapped agency has “essentially suspended” the awarding of grants to artists and art organizations yet continues to have a full-time staff.
* From their proposal…
Take actions to reduce state payroll expenses. Options include:
• A statewide state government hiring freeze (Governor Quinn’s budget adds 950 headcount) which could save $50 million (although new headcount at the Dept. of Corrections should be considered to reduce overtime costs);
• Eliminating pay for three (of 13) state holidays each year such as election day (suggested by Taxpayer Action
• Foregoing scheduled pay raises next fiscal year, FY12 (pay freeze was suggested by the Taxpayer Action Board). The labor contract includes minimum 5.25% pay increases in FY12, when coupled with estimated average 2.5% step increases on top of the base increases this amounts to almost 8% increases scheduled for next year. Foregoing those increases for one year could save almost $230 million GRF.
Targeted Savings: $300 million
I’m not sure how you can freeze pay and change holiday pay when 95 percent of state workers are covered under a union contract.
* The mayors won’t be happy with this…
Local Government Revenue Sharing
Review the over $6 billion that local governments receive in revenue sharing from the State of Illinois. They receive around 6% of income tax receipts, over half of all gas tax receipts, 20% of sales tax receipts on items other than food and drugs, 100% of sales tax receipts on food and drug purchases, and 100% of revenues from the Personal Property Replacement Tax. A $300 million reduction represents around 5% of those revenues. This approach has been suggested by many groups including the Governor’s Taxpayer Action Board, the Illinois Policy Institute and the Civic Committee.
Targeted Savings: $300 million
* The Senate Republicans have pledged to put 15 votes on these cuts. Senate President John Cullerton responds…
“We applaud the Senate Republicans for coming to the table with suggestions on how to mend our fiscal crisis. It’s nice to hear them say something other than ‘no.’ Nevertheless, their efforts must go beyond more than press releases and photo ops. Releasing a list of possible cuts shouldn’t be the end of their participation in the budget process. I hope that this is just the beginning.
“To that end, I am reserving a series of appropriations bills for their use in hopes that they will use this opportunity to fully engage in the appropriations process. I believe that their proposals and commitment can be the base line for discussion on what we all agree is a necessary process of cutting waste and creating efficiencies.”
Finally, game on.
*** UPDATE 1 *** Unlike Senate President Cullerton, Gov. Quinn had some harsh words for the Senate Republicans today…
On Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno’s call for $6.7 billion in cuts to his budget proposal, Quinn said the “apostles” of “draconian cuts” end up hurting the economy and job growth.
“I’m not listening to them,” he said, saying money for health care, human services and public safety were important.
Sheesh. Was that really necessary? I mean, what’s the harm in just listening to them? It’s gonna be a long four years, campers.
*** UPDATE 2 *** Quinn’s office just called to say that he is not ruling out dialogue with the Senate Republicans, but that he was “reassuring” reporters about how he won’t cut education by that much and slash vital programs.
They’re looking for an audio clip. Stay tuned.
*** UPDATE 3 *** From the governor’s press office…
We appreciate the Senate’s effort to identify additional savings. The challenge, however, is not coming up with myriad possibilities. As we examine their proposals, we must look at their consequences. If Illinois were to implement the cuts proposed today, Illinois would miss out on millions Illinois taxpayers have sent to DC in taxes; legal action would be taken against the state for violations of funding statutes, and conflicts of interest would be codified into state agencies; and economic recovery efforts that are creating jobs would be halted in their tracks.
Under the Governor’s leadership, Illinois is on the road to economic recovery. Announced today, after 13 months of straight declines in unemployment, Illinois’ unemployment rate is under 9 percent for the first time in two years. We lead the Midwest in job creation, and the Governor’s comprehensive plan to create jobs and economic growth is bearing fruit.
The Governor has cut spending at historic levels to help restore fiscal stability to Illinois, but spending reductions must be made carefully and with research to properly asses their impact. The Governor has asked for two years for realistic, responsible proposals for budget reductions. His team has been implementing budgeting for results, to look strategically at all programs to identify unnecessary state spending.
Senate Republicans advocate missing out on millions of dollars of federal matching funds – simply abandoning taxpayer money that should return to Illinois to help its citizens. Their proposals – including nearly $1 billion in cuts to education, $650 million loss in federal Medicaid match, and deep cuts to public transit services affecting 2 million people per day – will devastate our economy, infrastructure development, workforce training programs, and put thousands out of work.
We continue to welcome good-faith efforts to identify and reduce unnecessary state spending. We continue to invite all four caucuses to meet with us to discuss the serious challenges of stabilizing our budget and creating jobs for today and tomorrow, as well as the important and ongoing discussions regarding payment of the state’s overdue bills.
* VIDEO: Sen. Minority Leader Radogno on budget cuts
* VIDEO: Sen. Althoff on budget cuts
* House committee votes to exempt casinos from smoking ban: House Bill 171 would exempt casinos from the 2007 Smoke Free Illinois Act, which banned tobacco smoking in public buildings and businesses.
* House committee passes gambling expansion bill: Illinois race tracks would be allowed to have slot machines, riverboat casinos would pay lower taxes and be allowed to buy more gaming positions under a gambling expansion bill that cleared a House committee this morning.