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House budget roundup

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

* Jamey Dunn has a really good take on yesterday’s House budget action. Go read the whole thing

Debate on the bills was lacking in the House in part because lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were uncertain about the details of the budget. For example, none of the key budgeting players in the chamber were able to give a definitive answer on the total spending number for the plan. All the responses were between $35 billion and $36 billion, but nobody knew the number spot on.

The bills were worked out in House budgeting committees, but many Republicans on those committees said they were not included in negotiations. Complaints aired by Republicans on the floor were primarily about the process and not the specifics of the budget itself, which they say they got this morning. “This is not a good budgeting process when you don’t know what you’re talking about. You don’t know what you’re advancing,” said Rep. Ron Sandack, a Downers Grove Republican.

“I guess that the speed-reading classes that you’ve taken are paying off over there. Thank God. But the process has been a complete joke,” Elmhurst Republican Rep. Dennis Reboletti said to Democrats on the House floor. “You do this every year, and then you’re surprised that we’re not working with you, or that we’re angry or frustrated.” Democrats said they tried to include Republicans, but that many did not attend meetings held budgeting committees yesterday. They say that because Republicans have been unwilling to vote for budgets in recent years, they likely would not have been in favor of the plan, no matter what the process.

Those Democrats who crafted the proposal were able to keep the budget relatively flat by tapping into some well-worn creative budgeting tactics, such as delaying payment for some spending obligations, adjusting revenue estimates up and borrowing from funds outside of general spending. Democrats say that the moves freed up about $2 billion. Most of the tactics are short-term solutions or one-time sources of funding. […]

But flat funding does not mean that the budget picture is rosy. The bill backlog would grow substantially and there would be layoffs under the plan, according to those who worked most closely on it. “As the year goes on, things are going to get tighter and tighter in our departments,” said Rep. Greg Harris, who chairs the House human services budgeting committee. Harris said that the budget would likely increase the state’s stack of unpaid bills by “a couple billions of dollars” and would result in “thousands” of layoffs of state workers.

It’s a heckuva way to run a railroad.

* More

Rosier revenue estimates, long a staple of Statehouse budgets, also are on the table this time. The state is now estimating it will collect another $200 million in the new budget year that starts July 1.

That’s kinda misleading. The revenue estimates are from COGFA, not pulled out of thin air. And the overall estimates are not as optimistic as the governor’s.

* Some of the cuts

At the Illinois State Police, for example, the new plan scraps a new cadet class at a time when the agency already has a problem with overtime costs because of a manpower shortage.

At the Department of Children and Family Services, workers will face bigger caseloads.

Spending on mental health and programs for developmentally disabled people would be cut in order to divert money to comply with federal regulations. […]

Education funding actually rises slightly under the plan, but overall aid to schools remains at about 89 percent of what officials say is adequate. Universities will receive roughly the same amount they are getting this year.

* More cuts

“People will not stop being disabled, people will not stop getting elderly simply because we don’t have the ability to raise the revenue to pay for it,” said Harris, who chairs the human services appropriations committee. “So the providers are going to be faced with the fact they are going to be serving those people until their appropriation runs out.” […]

But the budget also would cut $137 million from community care programs that serve the elderly at home. Another $7.8 million would be cut from programs that provide in-home care for the disabled. Funding for child care for the poor would be cut by $24 million, one legislative analysis showed.

Also eliminated would be $10 million for grants for after-school programs and another $15 million that funded anti-violence programs that arose from Quinn’s troubled Neighborhood Recovery Initiative. Republicans argued the Democrats moved money into different agencies to keep some of the programs going.

* Finke

Asked if the budget bill passed by the House could lead to layoffs, Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, chairman of the Human Services Appropriations Committee, said, “Yes, probably thousands of people.”

Steans said the Department of Human Services alone warned of 1,500 job cuts under the so-called doomsday budget during budget hearings this spring.

Harris also said agencies may be forced to leave jobs unfilled if people retire or leave for other reasons.

However, Rep. Fred Crespo, D-Hoffman Estates, chair of the General Services Appropriations Committee, said layoffs aren’t necessarily certain.

“Some agencies are going to have to make decisions based on the money they have,” Crespo said. “They can probably cut elsewhere to make sure they meet those needs. I don’t think they necessarily have to let people go.”

* Gov. Quinn’s react

Quinn’s office called the spending plan that advanced Tuesday “incomplete.”

“The budget doesn’t avoid the tough decisions. It just postpones them,” said his spokeswoman, Brooke Anderson.

* And the last word goes to Reuters

The fate of the income tax increase is being tracked by Wall Street credit rating agencies, which already have Illinois at the lowest ratings among states, largely due to its $100 billion unfunded pension liability.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


27 Comments
  1. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 10:30 am:

    This is what can happen when people think too much of themselves and not enough of others. Many people want to keep 1.25% more per pay check and say to heck with those who would be harmed. I’m not one of those people. I don’t mind paying 1.25% more per check so that the state avoids harming the most vulnerable.

    “The fate of the income tax increase is being tracked by Wall Street credit rating agencies, which already have Illinois at the lowest ratings among states, largely due to its $100 billion unfunded pension liability.”

    I certainly don’t mind paying 1.25% more per check to improve our fiscal health. This makes me rethink political labels and who is fiscally responsible.


  2. - Barney - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 10:33 am:

    So competence isn’t going to be one of the themes of the 2014 election cycle for Dems I take it…


  3. - wordslinger - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 10:38 am:

    –But the budget also would cut $137 million from community care programs that serve the elderly at home. Another $7.8 million would be cut from programs that provide in-home care for the disabled. Funding for child care for the poor would be cut by $24 million, one legislative analysis showed.–

    Let’s hear it for the bravehearts in the Democratic House super-majority!

    No more coddling those old folks and disabled at home — get out of the house and get busy!

    And those poor working parents with kids — get better jobs, or rich kids!

    Turn those takers into makers!


  4. - In the Middle - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 10:39 am:

    Junk bond status, full speed ahead.


  5. - PublicServant - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 10:41 am:

    Seems to me that the Democrats are Shaking Up Springfield, and Bringing Back Illinois their way.


  6. - Anonymous - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 10:47 am:

    “none of the key budgeting players in the chamber were able to give a definitive answer on the total spending number for the plan.”

    The Wall Street credit rating agencies will find this a negative for Illinois. It could end up being costly for Illinois taxpayers. Are there junk bonds in the states future?


  7. - Arizona Bob - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 10:47 am:

    =…overall aid to schools remains at about 89 percent of what officials say is adequate.=

    If these “officials” are the EFAB committee, made up of the two biggest teacher union presidents, a south suburban elementary school district Superintendent who’s very generous salary would be affected by how much her district gets form the state, and the Latina “gimme” activist who chairs the Board, that “adequacy” claim is about as trustworthy as beleiving Quinn, Madigan, and Cullerton honestly expected the tax increase to be “temporary”.


  8. - Arizona Bob - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 10:55 am:

    =But the budget also would cut $137 million from community care programs that serve the elderly at home. Another $7.8 million would be cut from programs that provide in-home care for the disabled. Funding for child care for the poor would be cut by $24 million, one legislative analysis showed=

    So that’s about three times what Quinn wasted in 2010 on his corrupt and failed “anti-violence” slush fund. I’m sure we can find that money if we cut all those “pork” grants, only fund capital work to maintain safety, and, long term, reduce all pension benefits for new employees to the minimum constitutional levels.

    The question here is whether the Dem priorities are the truly needy, or giving tax dollar payoffs to campaign contributors and those who’ll work on their campaigns.

    I think this budget answers that question….


  9. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 10:58 am:

    ===If these “officials” are the EFAB committee, made up of the two biggest teacher union presidents,…===

    Oh joy, teachers’ unions, it has to be their fault…


  10. - Rob Roy - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 11:00 am:

    The 100 billion pension liability is if it was paid out all at once right now. I bet I could find items to cut that wouldn’t hurt very much all over the budget. Maybe the lay offs should start at the state house first?? Hey lets fund a new library with all the extra money we have.


  11. - Demoralized - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 11:01 am:

    @Arizona Bob:

    Please enlighten us with your oh so brilliant analysis of education funding. You are constantly berating education and seem to have an absolute hatred for teachers. What the heck is your major malfunction? Just being grumpy for the sake of being grumpy? Stay in Arizona. Illinois is better off.


  12. - Rod - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 11:19 am:

    As we all know the Constitution requires a vote of three-fifths of the members elected to each house come November in order for the income tax rate to be maintained at its current level from January 1, 2015 through the end of May 2015. At least right now this seems unlikely unless Governor Quinn wins by a reasonable margin indicating to the Democrat majority all is well with keeping the 5% rate.

    President Cullerton can say what he wants to about November and believe various revenue options may be “on the table” after the election. If Mr. Rauner either wins or comes in a relatively close many options will no longer be on the table because Democrats will be fearful of the consequences of a tax increase. Jamey Dunn from Illinois Issues was totally correct when he wrote “none of the key budgeting players in the chamber were able to give a definitive answer on the total spending number for the plan.” In fact there was confusion among some about the bill number, there were a few members who seemed to think that the budget vote was going to be on an amendment to HB 6069 and told advocates in halls that, instead of HB 6096 as amended. Rep. Dennis Reboletti said at least twice on the floor that HB 6096 was a 300 page bill, when it was only 126 pages long, but none the less his point about the members not having read or understood much of that bill seems to have been well taken.

    One can only hope that the administrators in charge of the agencies will not presume more funds will be on the way come November and they will show great restraint in their agency level budgeting process. The tragedy here will be human services funding and probably corrections, both areas already significantly underfunded. As I said yesterday if I were DHS Sec Saddler I would just turn in my resignation to the Governor and copy it the legislative leadership, both Democrat and Republican.


  13. - Arizona Bob - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 11:25 am:

    @Dem
    =Please enlighten us with your oh so brilliant analysis of education funding.=

    I’ve done this about a half dozen times here, Dem, but I’ll write slower this time so that you can understand.

    We need to slow the rise of spending per student by the educrats by prohibiting teacher strikes, fund the student, not the system, to allow school improvement in quality and cost efficiency through truly innovative organization outside the constipated public school bureaucracy, shift new employee, salary pension contributions for salaries more than 20% above state average and “end of career” pension spikes to local schools, end tenure so that we can replace deadwood to the advantage of the students and taxpayers, and base continuing state aid to districts based upon them meeting certain cost and efficiency standards.

    The biggest thing we need to do is expand learning opportunities for more contact hours during the year, and a supplemental 20-30 days during the summer to achieve subject mastery. You can’t do that when you’re paying HS gym teachers $120K for nine months work, as well as recalcitrant senior faculty.Salaries need to be fair, which will require salary schedule freezes at upper levels until they are. Equal pay for equal work should be the rule, and the salary gap between journeymen and senior staff needs to be closed to the journeyman level.

    We need to bring costs in line with superior performing systems like those in Texas, and make the structural changes in Illinois education to achieve those goals. It all starts with pension, compensation, and work rule reform.

    Ask O Willy about how he’d accomplish that with the current union stranglehold in place.


  14. - NH Insider - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:31 pm:

    –But the budget also would cut $137 million from community care programs that serve the elderly at home. Another $7.8 million would be cut from programs that provide in-home care for the disabled. Funding for child care for the poor would be cut by $24 million, one legislative analysis showed.–

    Take a look at HA 1 to SB 741 which raises nursing home rates by $60 M. Why increase one type of providers’ rates while slashing another one? I guess I’m cynical.


  15. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:33 pm:

    ===Ask O Willy about how he’d accomplish that with the current union stranglehold in place.===

    See, this is where you always fail;

    Illinois is not Texas or anyplace else. Applying all that Dopiness here, where it will not fly, makes you a problem “Pointer”, not someone who brings …viable …viable solutions, and let us not forget that Pesky Constitution, and local school boards setting the salary market for their districts, abc that not changing anytime soon.

    But you keep pointing and complaining, using the same premise for all that ails Illinois, and keep suggesting solutions that won’t work… in Illinois.


  16. - Demoralized - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:47 pm:

    @Arizona Bob:

    So basically screw the teachers. Gotcha. Good plan.


  17. - Demoralized - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:55 pm:

    ==base continuing state aid to districts based upon them meeting certain cost and efficiency standards==

    That’s probably one of the dopiest ideas I’ve heard. You want to run schools like HMO’s? Then when they don’t meet these standards you’ve pulled out of your rear end you cut their funding and also screw the kids. Another brilliant plan, Bob.


  18. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:57 pm:

    ==tracked by Wall Street credit rating agencies==

    Maybe Rauner will do what his big finance buddies did with subprime loans, just greasing the ratings agencies to rate them well even though they were crap. We won’t be out of the woods, but Rauner’s sycophants will tell us we are! Vote Rauner, vote Alternate Reality!


  19. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:58 pm:

    ==If Mr. Rauner either wins or comes in a relatively close many options will no longer be on the table because Democrats will be fearful of the consequences of a tax increase.==

    Quinn barely won and we got the tax increase he ran on.


  20. - Norseman - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 1:00 pm:

    === “So the providers are going to be faced with the fact they are going to be serving those people until their appropriation runs out.” ===

    “Sorry sir, we can’t take your stitches out because our appropriation runs out before then.”

    end/snark


  21. - Just Observing - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 1:27 pm:

    === This is what can happen when people think too much of themselves and not enough of others. Many people want to keep 1.25% more per pay check and say to heck with those who would be harmed. ===

    I think its far more nuanced than that. I think some might be OK with paying 1.25 percent more if they felt confident the state was being good stewards with taxpayer money. But the citizenry, by and large, does not have much faith in the state government.


  22. - Formerpol - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 1:29 pm:

    These are some of the same Democrats who gave us the fake ’sequester’ scare on the federal level. No one even noticed that ‘non-essential’ workers were laid off. State could easily do the same.


  23. - Kimocat - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 3:10 pm:

    I’m sure the “non-essential” workers noticed. And I would imagine that they would quibble with your definition of “non-essential.”


  24. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 3:59 pm:

    The poor planning and lack of forethought demonstrated here is staggering.

    Vital details are missing just a few days before one of the largest and most important state budgets in America is to be complete. Meanwhile, the best proposal anyone can come up with reprising Blago’s destructive budgeting practices?

    Great way to run the state.


  25. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 4:27 pm:

    == none of the key budgeting players in the chamber were able to give a definitive answer on the total spending number for the plan ==

    == In fact there was confusion among some about the bill number ==

    Our process speaks for itself, and this speaks volumes.


  26. - Cassandra - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 5:51 pm:

    I really don’t think Rauner is going to win, but for the sake of argument…he’ll have to extend the tax increase for a while, period. So all the usual doomsday budget talk is just that. Nobody who just took office wants to preside over a total budget disaster that will be remembered throughout his tenure. Plus, he can blame it all on Quinn. Governor-elect Rauner would do a bipartisan deal with the Democrats to extend the tax increase for some period of time–through at least one full fiscal year, I’d bet. Then, who knows.He’d still have to go through the legislature. Comparisons with Scott Walker are not accurate since Walker had a Republican legislature to work with. Not gonna happen (the Republican legislature) in Illinois.


  27. - wordslinger - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 8:47 pm:

    –Comparisons with Scott Walker are not accurate since Walker had a Republican legislature to work with.–

    And nearly four years later, those alleged pro-business, conservative darlings, with the Fitz boys controlling the Assembly and their old man. ex-Chicago cop, nepotism payroller hack running the troopers and knocking on doors at midnight hunting senators, have done nothing about their progressive personal income tax rates:

    5.84% over $11K, 6.27% over $22K and maxing out at 7.65%.

    Can you be an Illinois conservative like Walker with that tax code?

    Not to mention the state property tax.


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