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*** UPDATED x1 *** Question of the day

Friday, May 23, 2014

* Kurt Erickson

“We do not have the votes for a doomsday budget,” said Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon. “To us, there has to be another alternative.”

That alternative could be what insiders are calling a “maintenance budget,” that keeps spending near current levels by extending payment cycles for state contractors and reverses gains made on paying down a massive backlog of bills.

“We would return to the days when you’re just trying to hold the budget together with bailing wire and Band-aids,” Phelon said.

It also would give lawmakers some breathing room to see who wins the race for governor in November.

In other words, they’d make the spending match revenues by using bill payment money for programmatic spending and pushing even more vendor payments off to the future.

* The Question: Your thoughts on a “maintenance budget”?

*** UPDATE *** Since this appears to be off the table (a scenario described to me by a top Madigan guy the other day), the maintenance budget may be the only option left

Madigan disputed a report in Friday’s Capitol Fax political newsletter that the speaker raised the idea of forwarding to Quinn the $38 billion in spending bills that passed the House last week and letting him make spending cuts if the tax-extension doesn’t pass.

“We’re not moving in that direction,” the speaker said.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


55 Comments
  1. - Ahoy! - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 11:23 am:

    “maintenance budget,” is not a term I would use, it’s a deficit budget that borrows from vendors. It’s a bad idea, they would be better off sun setting the tax over time than sliding back tot he old method of borrowing.


  2. - Norseman - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 11:25 am:

    This should come as no surprise, but this practice is the major reason we’re in a fiscal crisis.


  3. - wordslinger - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 11:25 am:

    No. Put on your grownup pants and bite the bullet, one way or the other.

    There has been painful progress the last few years in getting the fiscal house in order. The gimmicks of the past should remain there.


  4. - jake - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 11:25 am:

    As people used to say in the comic strip thought balloons when their thoughts were unprintable: !@#$%^&*


  5. - frustrated GOP - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 11:27 am:

    wait for it.
    Rauner in January: ” I had no idea the state was even worse then I thought, we have no choice but to increase revenue. We will need an income tax of 4.999%


  6. - Wondering - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 11:29 am:

    Brilliant. NOT.


  7. - thechampaignlife - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 11:31 am:

    Can we meet in the middle? 1/2 the budget cuts, 1/2 the drop in tax rate?


  8. - Archimedes - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 11:32 am:

    The maintenance budget is a terrible idea. If the tax extension is not done, we will be much bigger in the whole to vendors losing much of the progress made to date. It leaves school districts and others in limbo as to the actual funds to expect for the year.

    It is the cowards way ouy.


  9. - Anon - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 11:32 am:

    It may be all that 60 House members will accept, since they rejected the not-recommended budget and refuse to extend the income tax hike. I predict Reublicans won’t like this option either.


  10. - Grandson of Man - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 11:32 am:

    This is a bad option. I say let’s keep the revenue flowing so we can recover better. Let’s pay our bills better and create a positive economic chain reaction of responsibility. We pay the bills better, then the service providers pay their bills better and so on.

    Sooner or later we may have to raise more revenue, and kicking the can down the road politically is not a good option. Let’s create stability and consistency, which are favorable attributes for an economy.


  11. - A guy... - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 11:36 am:

    Given the choice, they’ve always preferred the “yellow button” of life. Champions meet challenges. Chumps duck them.


  12. - Bill White - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 11:36 am:

    Well done with this:

    == Rauner in January: ” I had no idea the state was even worse then I thought, we have no choice but to increase revenue. We will need an income tax of 4.999% ==

    Well done!


  13. - SAP - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 11:37 am:

    Don’t like maintenance budget idea. Too similar to the old way of borrowing from the pension funds to make ends meet. I know the Governor has vetoed it in the past, but I’m surprised there has not been serious discussion of gambling expansion to patch part of the hole.


  14. - Bill White - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 11:41 am:

    Basic dumb question:

    What happens if no budget is passed before the next fiscal year starts? How would a shutdown of IL government look in comparison with a federal shutdown?


  15. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 11:43 am:

    ===What happens if no budget is passed before the next fiscal year starts?===

    Not much changes. AFSCME has gone to court in the past to make sure workers are paid.

    The only major difference is some of us have to be at the Statehouse in June, etc.

    I doubt that’s gonna happen in an election year, however.


  16. - Out Here In The Middle - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 11:44 am:

    Just business as usual!


  17. - Mason born - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 11:46 am:

    This is a horrid idea. It’s adult time. Man Up (or Woman up as the case may be) and actually address the problem. That being said anyone want to bet this isn’t what happens??


  18. - Walter Mitty - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 11:59 am:

    What am I missing on this issue? Every attack on Rauner and governing is hard… Uh, Super majority you can do anything you want. You didn’t spend the money on the temporary tax on what you said… You have a super majority. Do as you wish. If it’s doomsday, so be it. Let’s get it all done once and for all… Then in November, new people that take their responsibilities seriously, have no place but up… On both sides of the aisle.


  19. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 12:00 pm:

    A decent but desperate option that would represent a leadership failure.

    You can raise revenue, you can reduce spending, you can even develop a mixture of the two. “Pass” is about the only thing you can’t do while retaining the mantle of effective leadership.


  20. - Norseman - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 12:01 pm:

    The AG is proposing to have three “experts” testify on how the pensions are a problem. This sad demonstration should be the plaintiff’s exhibit X for how the State’s political leaders have chosen to take the politically safe, but financially devastating route. Had the State paid it’s contributions, pensions would not be a problem now. How many future unsustainable problems we’re going to see because of this continued mismanagement.


  21. - 47th Ward - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 12:01 pm:

    While I understand the inherent tension between the chambers, how long os the Senate going to take this? It may be time for Cullerton to act by passing the bill to keep the tax at 5% and a budget. Send it to the House and leave town.

    Isn’t that what Madigan would do if he could? Cullerton has the votes in his chamber, he might as well give it a try.


  22. - Frank - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 12:08 pm:

    Agree that it’s a lousy idea, but still waiting for one that can get 60 votes.


  23. - Larry the Cable Guy - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 12:12 pm:

    About that rumor that Republicans leaders from the House and Senate met last night to come up with their “more responsible” budget, now that there’s funny.


  24. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 12:13 pm:

    What might at first seem like the easiest way out could backfire very, very badly.

    As i wrote yesterday, public opinion turned very, very sour on borrowing around 2009. One poll I saw found only 7 percent of voters favored borrowing to balance the budget.

    Secondly, it is difficult to imagine the legal and political repercussions for pension reform. Rauner will blast pension reform as a sham: they said they cut pensions to save the system, and then they turned around and started undermining it again. In a way, Democrats would be making the case for a defined contribution system.

    By the same token, extending the
    payment cycle takes all of the pressure off of the state’s largest vendors to rally support for a tax hike - who honestly dont mind loaning money to the state at 12% interest - while putting a financial squeeze on smaller agencies in minority and rural communities.


  25. - Wensicia - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 12:17 pm:

    Maybe it’s time for Quinn to go back to threatening to take away their summer vacations. This is ridiculous.


  26. - dupage dan - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 12:29 pm:

    Ah, it’s nearing summer. The leaves are coming out. Birds are chirping. Lawns are being mowed. Grills are smoking. Politicians are playing kick the can. Yep, it’s getting on towards summer.


  27. - Waffle Fries - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 12:30 pm:

    Somehow I am again amazed, when lacking the courage to take the vote necessary that would actually do good by persons with disabilities and mental illnesses, they will instead make things harder on those that serve them.

    Ridiculous


  28. - Waffle Fries - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 12:32 pm:

    YDD I’m not so sure all state vendors want to go back to those days of having banks pay their day-to-day operations - 12% interest or not. A budget that puts providers in that situation is a complete 180 from what was done to construct the current state budget.

    I hope the Senate would put this kind of a budget plan aside as well.


  29. - Befuddled - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 12:37 pm:

    Maintenance budget that pushes off bills and uses one-time revenues to pay for base spending is simply more of the same practices that caused the tax increase in the first place.

    These are the policies that led Illinois to the abyss. These are Blagojevich policies. Or maybe they were just really Madigan policies all along?


  30. - Jack Handy - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 12:43 pm:

    One constant at the Capitol, always choose the option with the least amount of pain.


  31. - Annie - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 12:44 pm:

    Until the tax users can convince legislators there is a crisis, good luck on the tax rate extension.


  32. - Annuitant - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 12:44 pm:

    Clearly a retroactive tax increase to pay for pensions is needed. That way we could tax past taxpayers and not current taxpayers so no one needs worry about he political ramifications and we can take another pension holiday. It makes as much sense as the other proposals on the table.


  33. - jake - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 12:46 pm:

    As horrible as it is, it may be the least bad option right now.


  34. - RNUG - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 12:50 pm:

    GA Thought process: “Once we push the vendor bill payment cycle back out beyond where it used to be, we can then declare that debt unsustainable, invoke police powers, and pass a bill to settle it for a dime on the $ … after all, we’ve got the pension reform bill as an example and this action will just support the claim the State can’t pay it’s bill without changes.”

    /snark off


  35. - Arizona Bob - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 12:54 pm:

    Wow. I thought when you have dominating one party rule things are supposed to smoothly.

    What a dysfunctional mess made by those we elected to represent us.

    It may surprise many posters here to know that this kind of dysfunction is the exception, not the norm, in state legislatures.

    There are actually states (including my adoptive home, at least since they got rid of their Dem Guv) where the fiscal politics are conducted at the edges, and elected officials actually think they have a responsibility to govern well on the operation of government.

    Ya pay the overdue bills on which you’re paying penalties. Ya pay what your mandated by law to pay. Ya keep life and death health and safety services, and public safety program funding. Ya pay your employees what you ‘em.

    Whatever’s left you divvy up by the importance of the purpose and the general welfare.

    You don’t fund “wants” this year, only “needs”.

    Technically, it’s not that tricky. Politically it’s practically impossible.


  36. - Requiem for leadership - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 12:56 pm:

    And the Republican suggestion is……..? I am not a member of a “party” but trend toward fiscally conservative. What I want is a leader to emerge and all I see is gamesmanship. Rauner has zip, Quinn is zippy, Madigan postures and plots. We deserve this because we have allowed it.


  37. - Precinct Captain - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 1:04 pm:

    ==Super majority you can do anything you want.==

    ==Wow. I thought when you have dominating one party rule things are supposed to smoothly.==

    Another clueless comment from someone with apparently zero life experience. Show me where everyone agrees 100% on everything and there are no mediating institutions. You have zero understanding of organizational politics.


  38. - Annie - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 1:11 pm:

    @arizona bob
    Time for those strong backboned GOP members to step forth like they did on pension reform. Those who complain about illegal immigrants, want to separate downstate and Chicago, propose forensic audits left and right.
    Yes bob, the time is ripe for the “Weenie Caucus” to step forth and take some courageous votes to resolve our fiscal issues of the day.
    Oh, they did. All of them voted No on the cuts today.
    Backbone BBQ this weekend.


  39. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 1:11 pm:

    5 months into the budget process and 4 years into the tax hike, this can’t really be the best we can come up with for the 2015 budget.

    It’s not like we’ve had 4 years to plan and prepare for this moment or anything like that.


  40. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 1:13 pm:

    Waffle Fries:

    Well, state vendors certainly prefer delayed payments to contract reductions.

    And they either prefer payment delays to keeping the tax hike permanent or they need more professional help in their advocacy.


  41. - Pot calling kettle - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 1:16 pm:

    Another option: Run the Gov’s cut budget and insist that the Republicans put a bunch of votes on it. Any “fiscal conservative” that votes no on the cuts should face ads about their hypocrisy and unwillingness to vote for living within the state’s means. This flips the Repub’s plan to indict the Dems for wasteful tax and spending policies on its head. Run a cut budget up the flagpole and let the fiscal hawks own it. Polls show very consistently that cuts of almost any kind are less popular among voters than taxes. Madigan needs to work that reality.


  42. - Weenie Caucus - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 1:18 pm:

    @Pot calling the kettle black

    Go ahead. Make our day.


  43. - cover - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 1:21 pm:

    Borrowing / not paying $2 billion of bills in fiscal year 2015 is somehow a solution? So what would the General Assembly do about the next budget, when another $2 billion of revenue falls off? Unless the Dems’ goal is for the state to reach junk bond status, I would hope that Quinn and/or Cullerton send the message that borrowing for operations is “bad public policy” and refuse to go along. Or maybe RNUG has it right, the state could let the bills pile up and then simply refuse to pay, citing police powers.


  44. - Weenie Caucus - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 1:25 pm:

    We’re with Bruce. Hold the plan. Just ketchup and mustard on the bun.


  45. - Walter Mitty - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 1:31 pm:

    Precinct… The only experience I need is 35 years of being a resident. The fact is, the Super Majority CAN do anything they want. They have on other issues. Are you saying now, all of a sudden, MJM does not know what his caucus won’t do? It’s not both ways, Yeah governing is tough… And we are finding, the Super majority is not that well equipped. We all lose.


  46. - SkeptiCal - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 1:35 pm:

    Rich you posted that not much happens because AFSCME gets injunctions to keep members working without a budget. That is a huge part of the problem.
    I do not wish the damage to workers that a shutdown causes, but when there are no consequences, there is no accountability nor responsible action.
    If there is no budget agreement, there should be a shut down. The courts should refuse to cooperate in the madness.


  47. - Norseman - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 1:40 pm:

    === I do not wish the damage to workers that a shutdown causes, but when there are no consequences, there is no accountability nor responsible action. ===

    Let me understand this, the legislators act irresponsibly while the workers and other people affected get the accountability.

    If you want accountability, follow the papal example of locking them in the chambers.


  48. - VanillaMan - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 1:49 pm:

    Perhaps Mr. Speaker is interested in passing another income tax increase during the lame duck session at the end of the year - and this time, no sunset clause!


  49. - Robert the Bruce - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 2:39 pm:

    Ugh - the “maintenance budget” is a really bad idea. It really isn’t a budget, but rather a forced loan from vendors, which can’t be good in the long run.

    Those who aren’t supporting the budget should give an alternative to show what they’d prefer - how much would they cut, where, and how much of those cuts might cost the state federal matching funds?


  50. - Robert the Bruce - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 2:41 pm:

    ==Perhaps Mr. Speaker is interested in passing another income tax increase during the lame duck session at the end of the year - and this time, no sunset clause!==

    Sounds like a good idea to me - or maybe sunset again in three years. The electorate isn’t mature enough to handle a budget that adds up, so that would seem to be the only way.


  51. - Walker - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 3:14 pm:

    Rep. David Harris in explaining GOP No votes on the spending cuts proposed, to balance with no tax rate extension. “We think we can hold the line in other ways.” (DH today)

    OK, David show me. Time to put up or shut up.

    I believe you have the capability to show a better way to hold the line on expenses, but not the will.


  52. - wordslinger - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 3:20 pm:

    –Rep. David Harris in explaining GOP No votes on the spending cuts proposed, to balance with no tax rate extension. “We think we can hold the line in other ways.” –

    So if you “think” that you must have some ideas. Now is the time to communicate them.

    “Wellllllll….we’re waitttttiinnnnnggggg”


  53. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 3:27 pm:

    I’m all ears, Rep. Harris.


  54. - Precinct Captain - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 3:57 pm:

    ==The fact is, the Super Majority CAN do anything they want. They have on other issues. Are you saying now, all of a sudden, MJM does not know what his caucus won’t do? It’s not both ways==

    Reread my comment from earlier, but substitute in agenda setting and issue formation.


  55. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, May 23, 14 @ 4:45 pm:

    They must have faith some sort of deal is near. They adjourned a few hours early in the workday and are heading their separate ways for the weekend.

    Unless marching in Memorial Day parades is more pressing than finishing the budget. In which case, this will look like a very bad choice a few days from now.


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