* The BlueRoomStream.com video of the budget briefing for reporters last night by Gov. Pat Quinn’s chief of staff, budget director and chief flak is here. Make sure to keep a close eye on our live session post today for constant updates on this and other topics.
* The SJ-R has some info about how the new AFSCME contract impacts the budget…
While pension pressures continue and some programs face cuts, Quinn is expected to tout an estimated $900 million savings over three years in state employee health care costs, which the administration said will result from the tentative contract recently negotiated with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The contract calls for higher insurance payments by active workers and also for retirees to begin paying premiums for their state-subsidized health insurance.
However, the administration will need $140 million this year to pay for back wage increases that must be paid under the contract and $72 million to pay for cost-of-living adjustments and step increases next year.
The state also expects to save about $10 million through a new provision allowing newly hired workers to be paid less than the current starting wage for their jobs.
* Meanwhile, serious conflict is coming with the House. Gov. Quinn’s budget calls for $35.6 billion in General Funds spending. That’s a half a billion dollars more than the House’s official revenue estimates…
Just a day before Gov. Pat Quinn is scheduled to deliver his budget speech, the Illinois House adopted its own estimate of state revenues and warned the governor not to exceed it.
On Tuesday, the House adopted resolutions saying they believe the state will collect just over $35 billion in revenue next year from state taxes and federal aid.
That’s the amount the House will use to craft its own spending plan over the coming weeks. Rep David Harris, R-Arlington Heights, the ranking Republican on the House Revenue Committee, said the House budget will not spend more than that amount.
“If the governor walks into this chamber (Wednesday) and proposes to spend more than $35 billion, then he puts himself at odds immediately with this chamber,” Harris said.
* The Tribune looks at increases…
Quinn budget chief Jerry Stermer said the governor wants to add more state police and prison guards to replace a growing number of retirees and to hold down overtime costs.
Spending on social services also would increase from $4.6 billion in the current budget to $5.3 billion in the new budget. Stermer said the extra money would be aimed at “ending gimmickry” that is now “kicking the cost” into other years.
* Big cuts outlined by the Daily Herald…
Quinn today will propose cutting about $400 million for schools, including a 5 percent cut to universities. He’ll also advocate ongoing reviews of cuts into what the state pays for health care for the poor.
And he’s also eyeing possible cuts to local communities’ share of state income taxes, an idea that has drawn loud protests from suburban mayors in recent years.
Quinn isn’t calling for a specific cut to that program, but aides said it could be an item in a larger menu of similar reductions the governor wants.
Keep in mind that those and all other cuts will have to be deeper if the House sticks to its revenue estimate, which it has in the past.
* The Sun-Times has the pension impact…
The budget proposal the governor will present to state lawmakers Wednesday represents a 3-percent increase in spending over current levels but contains no tax or fee increases or sweeping new programs that might be salted within a typical election-year budget.
Instead, the growth in spending goes toward covering $6 billion in pension obligations, up from $5.1 billion this year. Next year’s pension tab amounts to 19 percent of all state spending compared to just 6 percent of the state’s spending pie six years ago.
In fact, while the Quinn administration forecasts $817 million in new revenues coming into state coffers during the budget year beginning July 1, all of that money and more — $929 million — will go toward paying for added pension costs.
“This budget is a direct result of the inaction on stabilizing pensions,” said Jack Lavin, Quinn’s chief of staff.
* News-Gazette on the bill backlog…
The budget also calls for continued progress on the effort to reduce the state’s backlog of unpaid bills, now estimated at around $9 billion.
By the end of 2013, the backlog will be down to $7.5 billion, the budget outline says, and will be reduced to $6.8 billion by June 30, 2014.
* Lee Enterprises on facility closures…
Unlike a year ago when he announced the closure of dozens of state facilities, Gov. Pat Quinn has no plans to add to the list of shuttered properties when he unveils his fifth budget proposal Wednesday.
Although the Chicago Democrat still plans on moving forward with two closures left over from 2012 budget speech — the Dwight Correctional Center and the Murray Developmental Center in Centralia —aides say there will be no repeat of the controversy he stirred last year with the closure of facilities in Tamms, Murphysboro, Carbondale and elsewhere.
* And despite claims that there would be no tax hikes proposed, Sneed says there is one such item on the agenda…
Sneed has learned Quinn, who will release his state budget Wednesday, plans to roll out a proposal that may give major corporations doing business in the state agita — but could pay the state’s debt more quickly.
◆ Translation: Quinn wants to temporarily suspend a $100 million tax loophole enabling major corporations that produce good outside the state to shield a portion of their income from taxation under the Illinois tax code.
◆ The loophole lop: “The governor feels this is no time for ineffective loopholes, when the state has bills to pay,” said a Sneed source. “The suspension would only be temporary, but it will enable the governor, who inherited billions of dollars in unpaid bills from decades of fiscal mismanagement — compounded by the worst recession — to pay down the debt faster,” the source added.
* Some individual videos of last night’s presentation…
* Quinn admin on tax hike: Brooke Anderson with Gov Pat Quinn’s office answers around a question about how the governor will be able to allow Illinois’ 67% income tax increase expire in 2015, given the current budget constraints on the state.
* Lavin on IL AFSCME Contract 1: IL Gov. Pat Quinn;s Chief of Staff, Jack Lavin, briefs reporters on the details of the new contact with the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees
* Lavin on IL AFSCME Contract 2: Jack Lavin with the Quinn administration answers more questions on the contract for IL AFSCME workers, including details about back pay, step increases, and how the contract will break down in the next IL budgets.
* Quinn admin on IL budget transfers: Jack Lavin, Brooke Anderson, and Jerry Stermertry to explain the Quinn administration’s view on taking money that would be transfered out of the state budget, and spending it on schools or pensions. The biggest transfer from the state budget is money collected by the state for local governments. Stermer would not say how much the Quinn budget expects to take from transfers. At about the 3:30 mark, reporters get frustrated with the lack of clarity from Stermer