[This story has been rewritten after a commenter pointed out something that I missed.]
* Legislators have decided to pay off part of a 2011 debt to state workers…
House Bill 3793 contains $50 million that will be used to pay workers at five state agencies who saw their scheduled pay raises canceled in 2011. They’ve been owed the money ever since.
However, the amount is less than half of what is owed to the workers. Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration puts the total amount at $110 million. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees puts it at $112 million. Most, but not all, of the affected workers are members of AFSCME.
But that’s not all they did…
It also included $50 million to be applied to the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund, $35 million for school construction grants in Chicago, and $40 million to pay for school maintenance grants for downstate school districts. The bill also contains money for water and sewer projects and to restore a theater in Chicago. […]
“We pay for all the downstate teachers’ retirement money, and we have been giving short shrift to Chicago over the years,” Currie said. “If we were going to fund them the way we’re going to fund their downstate colleagues, we would be spending not $50 million, but $543 million.”
I was orginally incorrect about where that back pay and pension fund money came from. After looking at the bill, the cash was actually appropriated from the General Revenue Fund.
* Back to the capital plan for a second. Sun-Times…
The Illinois House has approved legislation that funds continued work on $20 billion worth of capital construction projects and includes spending to help in the renovation of the Uptown Theater and to pay for Chicago teacher pension obligations.
The legislation is part of a $31 billion capital construction program that lawmakers approved in 2009. The package was largely paid for through legalizing video poker, raising taxes on candy, liquor and beauty products and by privatizing the Illinois lottery.
So, in other words, they passed a $31 billion capital plan five years ago, which was designed to spur the state’s economy, and have only spent about a third of the money so far.
The Illinois House has voted to expand Medicaid despite Republican concerns about how to pay for it.
Lawmakers voted 75-37 on Wednesday to restore funding for adult dental and podiatry services.
Actually, over a dozen House Republicans voted for the bill…
Bost, Cavaletto, Cross, Davidsmeyer, Demmer, David Harris, Hays, McAuliffe, Moffitt, Pritchard, Rosenthal, Senger and Unes.
Senate Bill 741 would rollback several Medicaid program reductions that were cut under sweeping Medicaid reforms approved in 2012. The bill would restore podiatry services and preventative dental care for adults. It would lift the four-prescription limit for people with “severe mental illness.” It would also remove the limit on the number of physical therapy sessions patients can access. The bill allows for more funding for programs that care for children with extensive medical needs, such as those on ventilators. “We are restoring this simply because we have found out from experience that these cuts actually did not save us money. They cost the people of the state of Illinois more money, and they brought suffering and hardship to families. They brought overutilization to our emergency departments and interfered with the delivery of health care to other patients in need,” said Chicago Democratic Rep. Greg Harris, who sponsored the bill. The restorations would cost $221 million upfront. However, the spending would bring in federal matching funds, so Harris said the net cost would be about $125 million in general revenue funding.
Opponents questioned rolling back changes to Medicaid that were put in place to ensure that the system remained sustainable at a time when the state was pushing billions of Medicaid bills from one fiscal year into the next. The reforms now bar the state from shoveling Medicaid bills into future fiscal years. “How are we going to pay for that, and how are we going to sustain the system for the people who need it most?” Rep. Patricia Bellock asked on the House floor today.
Those who have advocated to restore the cuts argue that they do not save the state money in the long run because Medicaid patients are forced to skip preventative care but later call on the system once their health deteriorates into an emergency situation.