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Hospitals back removal of income tax sunsets

Thursday, Apr 24, 2014

Posted by Barton Lorimor (@bartonlorimor)

* As you may recall from a story posted here earlier this week, Speaker Madigan says he does not yet have the votes to pass the income tax hike. The renewed attention the Governor has received as of late for the Flider, Gordon, and Smith hirings from four years ago certainly does not help.

Here come the hospitals to mend the situation…

Wurth said additional cuts to Medicaid would result in reductions or eliminations of services at hospitals, including trauma, obstetrics and mental health. Patients also could see longer waiting times at emergency rooms.

“We recognize this is a difficult vote,” Wurth said. “But we need lawmakers to make tough decisions for these tough times. The future of our state depends on it.”

Among special interest groups in Illinois, the hospital association was in the top 15 in terms of giving money to politicians in the 2012 election cycle.

In 2013, the organization contributed more than $420,000 to politicians, including significant sums to party leaders on both sides of the aisle in the General Assembly.

* If you don’t like the conversation, then change the subject is what I was told once. Apparently so was the Tribune editorial board…

Democrats and Republicans should change the conversation. They should assume the law as written remains law, with income tax rates receding Jan. 1, and with no new Democratic tax hikes to replace that lost revenue. Changing the conversation would make politicians of both parties face an ultimatum: Tell us how Illinois should budget for that distinct possibility.

If your accusations are true, Republicans, prove them in a way all of us can see: Put a big table and some chairs on a shady patch of statehouse lawn. Politely invite agency heads and Quinn’s budgeteers to answer questions. Explain that this is just a conversation. You aren’t taking sworn testimony, you aren’t conducting inquisitions, you aren’t forming a shadow government. It’s a fact-gathering session, on a nice spring day, to help the people of Illinois see what the rollback will mean and how Springfield can, or can’t possibly, cut spending to absorb it.

But with or without fresh information from the Democrats, Rauner and GOP leaders ought to propose specific revenue and spending plans. They have to assure voters now hearing the Democrats’ doom and gloom that the tax rollback won’t send state government off a cliff.

This part made me chuckle a bit…

You, too, Mr. Rauner. Itching to, say, ask Julie Hamos, head of the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, about further scrubbing ineligible recipients from the Medicaid rolls? Big potential savings there, as we’ve all seen. Talk it through with her. Serve iced tea. The media coverage would, we suspect, be lavish.

Subscribers and the Tribune board knows exactly why such a conversation would be so interesting to more than just the parties involved.

Related budget round-up…

* Journal Star: Help for those who need it, for a change?: It’s a wonder anyone can be found to work in a group home for adults who are profoundly disabled. They do jobs the vast majority of us don’t want, lifting fully grown people who often are wheelchair dependent, feeding them, bathing them, learning to communicate with the nonverbal, dealing with behavioral challenges that may include biting and hitting and other forms of frustration, sometimes becoming unrelated family — all so they can earn, on average, $9.35 an hour in Illinois. And so legislation has been introduced to improve that situation. It would gradually increase the minimum pay to $13 an hour for these direct support workers by 2016, starting with a $1-an-hour wage hike on Jan. 1. Gov. Pat Quinn is on board, putting aside some $30 million in his proposed 2015 budget. We trust most would agree these workers should earn more money, though you always have some who haven’t walked in those shoes and believe taxpayers should bear no responsibility for the struggles of others, to which we would say: You’re asking the impossible of many of these families, and “there but for the grace of God go I.”

* Burial of indigent brings ‘closure’

* Quinn touts MAP grant expansion

* Quinn announces huge investment for new WIU facility

- Posted by Barton Lorimor        


4 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Thursday, Apr 24, 14 @ 1:20 pm:

    –Democrats and Republicans should change the conversation. They should assume the law as written remains law, with income tax rates receding Jan. 1, and with no new Democratic tax hikes to replace that lost revenue. Changing the conversation would make politicians of both parties face an ultimatum: Tell us how Illinois should budget for that distinct possibility.–

    Um, Quinn did that. I read about it in the Chicago Tribune. You can look it up.

    –http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-03-26/news/chi-quinn-budget-tax-hike-20140325_1_tax-hike-tax-increase-rauner–

    As far as any real alternatives from Rauner or the Illinois GOP, you know that’s not going to happen. The GOP governance muscles have atrophied to nothing. They’re just Victims now.


  2. - Walker - Thursday, Apr 24, 14 @ 1:26 pm:

    Once again, the editorial board at the Tribune ignores what their own reporters reported.

    Quinn did offer two budget plans, one of which outlined the additional spending cuts that would have to be made if the “non-recommended” budget is passed.


  3. - zatoichi - Thursday, Apr 24, 14 @ 1:30 pm:

    The group home story is a very good one that many people know little about. What is equally important is that $9.35 pay often does not include include health insurance or retirement plans. The rates the state pays for group home services simply does not afford that. Yet ACA is making health insurance mandatory or the employer and employee pay fines.

    The plan is to move to $13 an hour? OK. At $30M a year to add $1 per hour, it will take to 2018 and will total about $300M over that time with $120M a year in 2018 alone. The group home direct service people are just one small part of the picture. And that cash comes from where if the tax increase goes away? The math just does not allow wishful thinking to just happen.


  4. - Hit or Miss - Thursday, Apr 24, 14 @ 2:21 pm:

    ===Wurth said additional cuts to Medicaid would result in…===

    The hospitals support of a continuation of the ‘temporary’ income tax is fully understandable. With continuing budget pressure on the state to pay its backlog of unpaid bills and its large unfunded pension liability, a decrease in income tax collections will probably require a decrease in current year spending if the ‘temporary’ tax increase ’sunset clause’ takes effect. Many other special interest groups probably will also support a continuation of the ‘temporary’ income increase for the same reason.


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