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Man bites dog

Monday, May 7, 2012

* Rare is the day when the Chicago Tribune editorial page blasts Republican state legislators on the budget, but today is that day

Patricia Bellock, Michael Frerichs, Raymond Poe, you are part of the problem.

Suzi Schmidt, Dave Syverson,you are not far behind.

They are all members of the Illinois House or Senate. They sit on the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability. Last week, they reviewed Gov.Pat Quinn’splan to close government facilities around the state.

Illinois has no money. It has to stop spending wherever it can. The governor has made some tough choices.

The commission voted on closing six major facilities the governor wants to close. The commission went 0 for 6.

House Republicans Bellock and Poe and Senate Democrat Frerichs didn’t vote to close one major facility.

Senate Republicans Schmidt and Syverson voted to close only one.

Look, there are plenty of really good reasons not to close some of those facilities. I even agree with some of them, disagree with others. There are decent arguments against closing all of them. For instance, this is from a Treasurer Dan Rutherford op-ed in the very same Tribune

I would prefer a long-range strategic plan before the state closes any of its mental health or correctional facilities

Legislating ain’t always easy, especially in times like these. But there are folks who talk a good game about cutting the budget and then won’t follow through.

* The Trib’s closer…

It’s time for Republicans to get in the game. You want more cuts in Medicaid than the governor has proposed? Put ‘em on the table. You want to spare local schools from pension costs — where’s your better idea? You don’t want to close a costly prison? Then name another state operation you will shut down tomorrow.

Step up.

Hard to argue with that.

* Other stuff…

* DNR hopes to create ’sustainable’ funding support for outdoors programs

* Editorial: Illinois Senate finally gives up scholarships

* Marin: Oh, the pain of giving up a perk

* Editorial: At last, a victory for common sense

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Shemp - Monday, May 7, 12 @ 10:34 am:

    Personnel costs are usually the biggest costs to a facility or department, but instead of addressing the personnel costs and maintaining services, we just eliminate facilities, thus personnel and services.

    No one want to talk about addressing the hole that collective bargaining has put the State in for making it more nimble. Instead of being able to furlough AFSCME and other union employees as needed or freezing wages or freezing moves on the step and grade, Illinois has to do things like cut off payments to hospitals and facilities for the disabled. Instead of addressing costly prevailing wage rules, the State spends more than necessary on all of its capital projects while cutting payments to daycare programs for kids or putting the savings from the elimination of prevailing wage into the pension funds.

    The State could sensibly share the pain with everyone, but we all know the reality is that power corrupts and the unions have bought the power. They’ll take a handful of layoffs and closures to make sure they get the next increase.

  2. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, May 7, 12 @ 10:36 am:

    Funny, I don’t recall any Republicans demanding a “long-range strategic plan” before they jumped all over cutting Medicaid and human services.

    Not that I disagree with Treasurer Rutherford, but given that unlike budget cuts, facilities will not be closed overnight. In fact, transition-planning for patient care is a defined part of the process.

    Seems like a Red Herring for those who want to protect jobs in GOP districts.

  3. - Shore - Monday, May 7, 12 @ 10:40 am:

    Mark Kirk never got enough credit for swearing off earmarks in 2005 before it was popular to do so. He did it after several years of earmarking, but still it was a big move in changing the culture in dc. State Republicans need to start following suit.

  4. - steve schnorf - Monday, May 7, 12 @ 10:49 am:

    Shemp, actually, salaries are less than 10% of our GRF budget. Other than that small point….

  5. - Robert - Monday, May 7, 12 @ 10:53 am:

    ==salaries are less than 10% of our GRF budget.==
    Really? Quite surprising. I’d have guessed much higher and I bet most would have guessed much higher as well.

  6. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, May 7, 12 @ 10:59 am:


    State government is pretty lean. Some would say too lean.

    Unlike local governments, which require a large workforce of police, teachers, firefighters, and in some cases garbage men and transit workers.

    I was shocked to learn, for example, that our State Police force is so small that there are large downstate counties where you’ll find only two state troopers on duty at any given time, responsible for patrolling two hundred miles of roads. That means help is no more than 50 miles away!

  7. - earl - Monday, May 7, 12 @ 11:00 am:

    Until a very serious evaluation of what state agencies do vs what they’ve been chartered to do,it will be a lot easier to just cut institutions.Unfortunately monsters filled with political hacks such as CMS will continue to thrive.Chicago Way

  8. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, May 7, 12 @ 11:10 am:

    BTW, kudos to the Chicago Tribune for their balanced editorializing about the need for bipartisan participation.

    They also deserve a tip of the hat for supporting the $1 per pack cigarette tax, which I’m sure required some soul-searching.

    I look forward to the day soon where Tribune Pragmatism is no longer noteworthy. Illinois will be much better off the sooner that day arrives.

    The Tribune editorial board is the shovel by which Illinois Republicans dig into their entrenched positions. Which encourages deeper entrenchment by Democrats and advocates on the other side.

    My great-grandfather fought in France in World War I, and I can tell you from his letters home that Trench Warfare is not a pretty sight.

    There’s a lesson for Illinois in the Christmas Truce of 1914, when troops from both sides laid down their arms to exchange presents, sing carols, and recognize their common humanity. That tradition was short-lived, unfortunately, because leaders issued strong orders against fraternization the following year.

    The Tribune editorial board would do a tremendous public service if it could continue to urge both sides out of their trenches to find common ground for the common good.

  9. - bourbonrich - Monday, May 7, 12 @ 11:20 am:

    While only 10% of the budget goes to state employees, I’m trusting your facts, the vast majority of the rest of the budget goes to schools for staff, to cities and towns for staff, to road districts for staff so it’s a little misleading to say only 10% of the budget goes to staff. The money to aid low income families get day care goes to the day care for staff.

  10. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, May 7, 12 @ 11:26 am:

    @bourbonrich -

    You clearly don’t know what your talking about.

    The two largest budget items are Medicaid and school aid.

    School aid in Illinois was around 30% last time I checked, so the idea its funding a lot of teachers is absurd. Its not funding a lot of anything.

    As for what the money actually goes to, less than 50% of school spending in Illinois actually goes into the classroom.

    On Medicaid, the reimbursement rate for a dentist to fill tooth decay is $13, according to a report I just read. I know a thoracic surgeon who told me he gets $213 from Medicaid per surgery.

    If you think the state is paying tons of folks to sit around and stare at their navels, you’re delusional.

  11. - anon - Monday, May 7, 12 @ 12:22 pm:

    @Robert @Yellow Dog Yes, the myth continues that the state’s debt is because of state employees. IL has the lowest number of state employees per capita than any other state in the country! Despite that fact, state employees continue to be the favored whipping boy of the Governor and some legislators. It’s ridiculous.

  12. - Lil' Enchilada - Monday, May 7, 12 @ 12:41 pm:

    I just read the Editorial from the QC Times.
    A 1993 quote from Denny Jacobs?
    About scholarships given in 1993?

  13. - bourbonrich - Monday, May 7, 12 @ 1:01 pm:

    @yellow dog democrat. Surprised to learn that school aid does not go for staff and pensions. The reimbursement rate may be low but that money is still going to people. I never said that it was state employees, but state grants to schools, villages, townships, day care facilities, group homes all contribute to staff expenses.

  14. - Team Sleep - Monday, May 7, 12 @ 1:16 pm:

    This type of double-talk is one of the reasons why the anti-war Dems won big in 2006 and why the TEA Party GOPers won big in 2010. The anti-war Dems took on and beat many wishy-washy, entrenched Dems in the primaries and then cleaned house against a lot of rank-and-file “W” Republicans in the fall of 2006. The GOP establishment is under fire from very conservative candidates who are starting to question why GOP officials never seemed to find a budget to vote against. I don’t think voters are quite in the dark about such hypocrisy as the party leaders on each side would believe.

  15. - 47th Ward - Monday, May 7, 12 @ 1:26 pm:

    Finally Patti Bellock gets some much-needed attention from the Tribune. After all these years in Springfield, she’s earned her place on the receiving end of the Tribune’s strange 9but welcome) scathing fratracidal editorial. It’s about time.

    Patti Bellock: You are part of the problem.

  16. - wishbone - Monday, May 7, 12 @ 1:51 pm:

    Like the tea party members of Congress now reneging on their promise to cut defense, and refusing to let the Post Office cut money losing rural facilities, Republicans generally never follow up on their rhetoric about making the hard decisions to balance budgets.

  17. - mokenavince - Monday, May 7, 12 @ 2:12 pm:

    All Republicans lament is cut,cut, and cut. But when it comes time to fish or cut bait they become gun shy. Never an origial idea. Just and when they have a chance to do something they do nothing. Our republic like all other republic’s
    is destined to fail.

  18. - Lil' Enchilada - Monday, May 7, 12 @ 2:38 pm:

    The republicans can talk the talk.
    But they don’t walk the walk.

  19. - Bill_Baar - Monday, May 7, 12 @ 3:17 pm:

    @The republicans can talk the talk. But they don’t walk the walk.

    I’d say Republicans trotted nicely in Wisconsin whild Democrats ran to Illinois. Gov Walker’s laid out a nice game plan for structural reform. It’s working. Quinn’s nickle and dime stuff on the edges isn’t.

  20. - wordslinger - Monday, May 7, 12 @ 5:01 pm:

    It’s a crying shame that the GOP doesn’t put anything down on paper and sell it.

    Unlike some, I don’t consider myself a victim of the dominant powers in the state, but I’d sure like to see some real alternatives. That’s the role of the opposition in any democracy.

    You can’t cry about Madigan, the Democrats, Cook County, et al., without giving folks better alternatives. If they’re so bad, what’s it so about you that you can’t beat them?

    There’s an old boxing saying, if you want to beat the champ, you’ve got to knock him out. And that takes work on all fronts.

    I suspect most of the state’s GOP leadership is content with the relatively comfortable, and responsibility-free, status quo.

  21. - Demoralized - Monday, May 7, 12 @ 5:04 pm:


    Perhaps you would like to define “nickle and dime stuff.” Drastically changing pensions and cutting $2.7 billion from Medicaid isn’t “nickle and dime.” Perhaps you aren’t good with numbers.

    Also, this isn’t Wisconsin so I’m not sure how your comment is even relevant. But, if it makes you feel better about yourself . . .

  22. - reformer - Monday, May 7, 12 @ 9:16 pm:

    == I suspect most of the state’s GOP leadership is content with the relatively comfortable, and responsibility-free, status quo. ==
    Well said, and too true.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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