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Worst. Budget Year. Ever.

Thursday, Jul 8, 2010

* I told subscribers about this yesterday morning, but the comptroller’s office has released a new and very depressing quarterly fiscal report. Some highlights… um, make that “lowlights“…

*The adjusted year-end General Revenue Fund balance was a negative $4.69 billion — a record.

*The backlog of unpaid bills on June 30 was $4.7 billion — a record.

*Because of the state’s financial condition, the amount of time it takes the comptroller’s office to pay bills once they arrive in the office is 153 working days — a record.

“Illinois ended the year in the worst fiscal position in its history,” the report concludes.

The full report is here.

* Human service advocate Don Moss sent this along earlier today…

FYI - Comptroller payment dates:

As of today for non-expedited payments:

For anything over $375.00 – for vouchers submitted up to November 6, 2009

For anything under $375.00 – for vouchers submitted up to June 3, 2010

This means that community nonprofit human service providers have to wait up to 8 months to be paid for their services unless they are on “expedited” payment. They can only qualify for expedited payments when they have no reserve funds and are close to running out of lines of credit with their banks.

The plan to further delay payments to providers in order to stretch the state’s insufficient funds will be devastating to many of them.

* The governor reacted to the comptroller’s new report by blaming the General Assembly for the problem

Quinn’s budget office issued a statement that shifts the blame for many of the financial problems outlined in the comptroller’s report to lawmakers.

“For the second year in a row, the General Assembly refused to deal with the realities of the state’s economic crisis. Instead, legislators approved an under-funded state budget, which passed the tough decisions along to Governor Quinn,” the statement read. “Governor Quinn is working with legislators to urge them to take action to address the fiscal crisis by creating jobs, reducing spending, using responsible borrowing strategies and increasing revenues for our state.

“This budget crisis was created over several years of fiscal mismanagement, and Governor Quinn is committed to fixing it.”

* And more short-term borrowing is dead ahead

Quinn’s budget office said it plans to borrow the $1.3 billion for failure of revenue later this month.

* Put into the context of Quinn’s bigtime pay raises for his top aides, this comptroller’s report doesn’t exactly make him appear to be a great manager with his priorites in order. For instance, here’s the Decatur Herald & Tribune

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn apparently believes that his own staff is immune from the “shared sacrifice” he says is necessary to address the state’s horrific financial situation.

At the same time he was planning on spending cuts of $1.4 billion and talking of “shared sacrifice,” he was handing out raises to his staff. Some of those pay increases were more than 20 percent. […]

To get out of this financial crisis, the state needs leaders who understand they can’t be the Grinch in public and Santa Claus to their own staff.

Belleville News-Democrat

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has a convenient definition of “shared sacrifice.” He’s all for it — except when it comes to his staff. […]

Apparently he is not seriously interested in downsizing government, but rather in holding on until the day after the November election. He must be confident he will win, and that lawmakers will come out of hiding and approve a tax increase

Chicago Tribune

…the governor of Illinois is oblivious to the plight of his recession-battered constituents — and too undisciplined to do the job he inherited from Rod Blagojevich. Coming on successive days, though, the Associated Press report and the comptroller’s year-end numbers suggest that Pat Quinn’s administration just isn’t up to running a multibillion-dollar operation. […]

Yet the governor who last year promised to “cut, cut, cut” state government has been insulting citizens by quietly giving his employees nice raises.

* Gov. Quinn is in Carlinville this morning for a bill-signing ceremony with state Sen. Deanna Demuzio. That should be an interesting event, since Sen. Demuzio whacked the guv but good in Bernie Schoenburg’s column today…

“If the governor wants to advocate fiscal responsibility, then he needs (to) lead by example,” Demuzio said in her release. “The state cannot afford this while the budgets for education, human services, and public safety receive drastic cuts and mounting bills remain unpaid. … How do I explain to my constituents that while they are tightening their belts and making sacrifices, the employees of the governor are getting regular boosts in pay?”


* Quinn even got clobbered for his back to school sales tax holiday. Here’s the Sun-Times

Parents who need relief should take it this August without hesitation.

But Illinois has not become a benevolent state with cash to burn.

It remains a reckless, irresponsible state that has dug itself into a hole from which it may never recover.

Mike Flannery at Fox Chicago

The good news in this sales tax holiday is that consumers will save $50 million.

The bad news is that since the State of Illinois is $6 billion in the hole, Illinois will have $50 million less to pay the people it owes.

But Dave Vite defended the plan

In other words, David Vite with the Illinois Retail Merchants, said people can save enough on the basics they may splurge on something else this year.

“They may save enough money to buy a new computer. They may save enough money to buy a printer. They save enough money that they weren’t able to purchase before because they have a few extra dollars in their pocket.” […]

“The fact that there is a sales tax promotion, retailers are also going to promote a little deeper. So there’s going to be additional benefit there.” […]

“Our shoppers have been going to Iowa for their sales tax holiday. Our shoppers have been going over to Missouri for their sales tax holiday. It’s now time for some of those folks to come back over to the really great state of Illinois to purchase their goods and services.”

* In other budget news, the governor still hasn’t yet said how he plans to actually make $41.9 million to the Department of Corrections’ budget. His budget documents said the department would reduce overtime and save cash through “operational efficiencies.” But union worker overtime is by far the largest chunk of cash in the department’s overtime costs, and Quinn won’t touch that

But, in the case of overtime, Quinn says reductions should not apply to employees who are in labor unions. Most of the overtime costs in the prison system are tied to unionized guards having to work double shifts because of understaffing.


* Related…

* Ill. university funding cut by $96 mil

* U of I Extension offices merge, downsize

* State slowly, surely paying school dists.

* News-Sun: Budget cuts

* Hinz: Springfield taking CTA, Metra riders on road to nowhere

* I Thought We Were Broke: Raises for state workers

* Illinois Sales Tax Holiday Signed By Governor Quinn, Savings for Consumers

* State sets sales tax holiday for some back-to-school shopping

* Quinn OKs sales tax holiday for back-to-school supplies

* Back-to-school shoppers to get tax break

* State Sales Tax Waived for Back-to-School

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - grand old partisan - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 10:20 am:

    “…legislators approved an under-funded state budget, which passed the tough decisions along to Governor Quinn”

    Okay, let’s assume that’s true. The problem for Quinn is that, even if it was unfair for the GA to dump those ‘tough decisions’ on him, he clearly failed to make them. The question that should be asked in response to this statement is: if the GA really is shirking its responsibilities, do you think it’s time that it got some new members and/or leadership?

  2. - Dirt Digger - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 10:22 am:

    In strictest accuracy it would be news if it were NOT the worst budget year ever.

  3. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 10:23 am:

    Pat Quinn should have cut his Office’s budget so that he would demonstrate to others what he is suggesting. He blew it. Pat Quinn should have vetoed the unconstitutional budget sent to him, forcing the GA to return to Springfield. He blew it.

    Whom within the GA has lead by example? Who has been pulling the alarms, making public statements and giving us other suggestions to follow? Except for Hynes, and the GOP leadership when it was politically expedient to fingerpoint, no one has done this.

    Our current government has given up and has surrendered. Consequentially, none of our current state leadership should be allowed to return. We’re not talking about a great defeated leader who showed us great skills while times were good, we’re talking about a bunch of legislators who have thrown up their hands after using them to point at one another for the past few years.

    Yeah, this is the worse budget year. But it isn’t an aberration either. 2010 was bad. 2009 was bad. 2008 was bad. We’ve had unpaid bill problems for years. 2011 is just another stinker in a long list of stinking budget bills.

    So, don’t just think about 2011 when you vote November. Think about all the previous years you voted, hoping that perhaps your incumbants would find their spines. Think of how bad Illinois government has become over the past decade. How corrupt it is. How badly ran it is.

    Then vote for the other guy, whomever it is.

  4. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 10:24 am:

    The raises by Quinn are a real bonehead move. Can you imagine what the Pat Quinn of 10 years ago would have to say about it?

    That’s the difference between keeping your very large posse happy and just gadflying around the state by yourself.

  5. - lincolnlover - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 10:28 am:

    I called the gov’s office to give my 2 cents on his staff raises. The guy that answered was none too polite. I explained that as a state employee, I understand that when a person moves from 1 job classification to another, they also move to that corresponding pay scale, so part of the “raises” really were not raises at all, just different pay scales. However, the gov’s defense that the other raises were because people were being asked to do the job of 2 really upset me. Rank and file employees have been doing the jobs of several for a long time and nobody is giving us any more money. Here’s what the guy on the phone said to that: “Have you talked to your agency director? Because you shouldn’t be asked to do more without being compensated.” I outright laughed in his face and said “Are you kidding?!” He interpreted that to mean that my agency director would discipline me if I complained. I had to go into detail with him for him to understand that my director would love to hire more people or pay me overtime, but the gov has cut us for 10 years and the current gov just cut us 14% in the FY11 budget.
    How freakin’ out of touch are these nitwits!!!!

  6. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 10:28 am:

    I’m with Dirt Digger, this is no surprise. Quinn is in a difficult place, I’d rather have him there than Brady who has yet to outline any kind of plan to address the budget mess.

  7. - Justice - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 10:31 am:

    Several points:

    Every single State employee has been asked to do more because of cuts in staff. So the “my staff has assumed additional responsibilities” dog won’t hunt. How incredibly naive Quinn is.

    Quinn was given powers to help reduce debt but has done little or close to nothing to do so. However he did manage to keep all the Blago hacks to help him in his campaign.

    My dentist collected $100 each from my bride and me, for cleaning our teeth,and had us file for reimbursement so he wasn’t left holding the bag.

    Quinn is running helter-skelter reacting to daily issues rather than working from a cohesive plan. He is reactive and not proactive.

    To me, both Quinn and Brady are simply in way, way over their heads.

    Personally I’m going to exercise my right and write in Dillard as my choice for governor. Dillard needs to get moving on that ASAP.

  8. - HatShopGirl - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 10:34 am:

    Fresh eyes, non-political eyes, the people’s eyes, need to analyze the budget.

    Open up the books. Put everything on-line. We have alot of UNEMPLOYED and UNDEREMPLOYED accountants and bookkeepers, who would don the GREEN-EYE-SHADE and pore(or pour [both are considered correct]) the budget.

    I think there’s alot of “splaining” to do about the loosey-goosey cookie-jar bean-counting in Illinois. Why do we have BOTH a Treasurer AND a Comptroller?

    I think these current budget woes have their genesis in the days of the Thompson admininstration. As we learned in the Conrad Black trial, Thompson headed the Audit Committee but admitted that he didnt’ know what the ‘f-bomb’ he was doing, he thought his job was to supply the SNACKS not the FACTS for the meetings.

    Political hacks should not be entrusted to give us an accurate picture. It’s bound to be obviously skewed and their only job is to obfuscate.

    Put the budget on-line. How much, from who/to whom, and when. Just the facts, on line.

    It’s not that I don’t trust the Legislature (okay, so I’m fibbing), but the first axiom of journalism is; trust but verify. Let us see the budget.

  9. - Cincinnatus - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 10:35 am:

    The Governor can’t have it both ways.

    He says the GA failed, yet he fails to call them back into session to force a balaced budget in accordance with the IL Constitution.

    Quinn complains Republicans block his efforts yet he did not reach out to the Republican caucus for help, and the Democrats blocked any participation by Republicans.

    Instead of Gov. Quinn, we should start calling him Gov. Janus.

  10. - Loop Lady - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 10:44 am:

    Rich, so are you still saying that the NYT article was over the top? I beg to differ…our duly elected Reps and Sens have abdicated their fiduciary responsibility to the Governor who is stuck between a rock and a hard place in an election year…this after a total lack of prowess by the last Governor and a spendthrift Geo Ryan who is now in jail…

  11. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 10:44 am:

    Yes. We’re not Greece. Don’t be silly.

  12. - Yadi Dog - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 10:49 am:

    “This budget crisis was created over several years of fiscal mismanagement, and Governor Quinn is committed to fixing it.” When was the last time Illinois was actually fiscally responsible? See you in Canada folks.

  13. - Sueann - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 10:54 am:

    Isn’t it Lisa Madigan’s job to prosecute criminal activity? I wish she would enforce the balanced budget criteria instead of spending her time doing photo ops at nursing homes across the state. Maybe then something would happen for a change

  14. - dupage dan - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 10:59 am:


    =Quinn is in a difficult place, I’d rather have him there than Brady who has yet to outline any kind of plan to address the budget mess. =

    Brady no longer has to outline anything. All he has to do is point to PQ. Game over. To propose anything will allow smart people like STL (no snark here at all) to pick away at his proposals. Why take that chance at this stage of the campaign. Propose = high risk. If Brady is smart (and the jury is still out on that one) he will make the typical politician comments about how his campaign team is working hard on coming up with the appropriate plan to deal with a problem that the dems have created.

    It is an anti-incumbent year. Doesn’t matter what PQ says or does, he’s toast.

  15. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 11:02 am:

    Yadi Dog, you’re really gonna give up your state job and move to Canada? Please.

  16. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 11:10 am:

    dupage dan - You’d think someone so sure of an outcome would be willing to make some money on it. I understand the campaign angle for Brady, the thing is, I don’t think its an angle in his case. He doesn’t have a clue, and if you’re right, we’ll all find that out.

  17. - Plutocrat03 - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 11:10 am:

    Well, one way we are not Greece is that they have a plan on how to dig themselves out of their hole.

    Any other differences?

  18. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 11:14 am:

    Yeah, our debt isn’t over 100 percent of our GDP. Again, don’t be silly.

  19. - anon - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 11:22 am:

    HatShopGirl- The budget is online. Everything is online. Employee salaries, contracts, etc. People are just too lazy to dig through the details

  20. - Secret Square - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 11:25 am:

    We also don’t have the scenery, food, climate, or 3,000-plus years worth of history, philosophy, and culture that Greece has (except, of course, in Greektown).

  21. - OneMan - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 11:58 am:

    Still think Pat running against the GA is a good idea, but to make that work he should have vetoed the budget.

  22. - cassandra - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 12:08 pm:

    It’s too late to renegotiate those lavish contracts that the Democrats signed with their labor union pals for both middle managers and frontline workers in state govt. Why should the unions cave, after all. Democrats knew what they were doing. The unions didn’t trick them into those lavish raises (29 percent over 8 years/2 contracts, higher percentages for many middle managers when they joined the b.u. under Blago).

    Still, the brunt of this recession has been borne by private sector workers, where workforce shrinkage has been proportionately much higher than in the public sector. In the future, while the public sector is like to stay the same or grow, there is no guarantee that the millions of private sector unemployed will see the good times again in their lifetimes. The economy will come back, but the jobs may well require skill and education that can’t be easily acquired by any but the youngest and most flexible of the presently unemployed. Many of those millions will have to take lower-paying jobs in a much more volatile workforce, while continuing to pay ever-higher taxes to support the public sector, at the local, state and federal levels.

    However, not all Democratic politicians are in the thrall of public and private sector unions the way Pat Quinn is. He has consistently backed down when unions flex their muscle.

    Brady needs to figure out some way to point that out to the voters before this fall, because Quinn, if he wins, will be negotiating the next state labot contract in 2012. And even though he says now that his tax increase proposal is for education, money is fungible. It’s as likely to end up in the pockets of state employees, many of them with political connections. No matter how big the alleged deficit is, his history demonstrates that he will do the unions’ bidding. Any real negotiating will be for show and will involve issues of minor importance for either side. So voters who don’t want to be taken to the cleaners again by state employees and their unions should pay attention, not only to whom they vote for but also, whoever wins, to what goes on in those negotiations. History, alas, suggests that they won’t pay attention, and the middle class will give up another chunk of its wealth to the public employee sector.

  23. - dupage dan - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 12:09 pm:


    You caught me in a senior moment. You’re right, if I’m so sure of it I should put money on it. We’ll have to work that out, somehow. I’m still not even sure of it but I said the words so I have to abide by them.

    We should all be saying a prayer for this state and her citizens given what we are witnessing. Doesn’t matter which party we belong to - it is horrific.

  24. - Vole - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 12:34 pm:

    Is there not a perverse incentive for state agencies to tighten their belts and save money when CMS can take those savings and just shift them to other agencies that might not be as frugal?

    And what is up with this two tier system of union and nonunion employee compensation? Why are some employees in the union and some not, working side by side, doing the same work and being compensated differently? Who gets to decide which jobs get unionized? Is this process out of the governor’s control?

  25. - Small Town Liberal - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 12:34 pm:

    - We’ll have to work that out, somehow. -

    I won’t hold you to it, I just like to remind people that bold declarations are often a bad idea when it comes to politics.

  26. - steve schnorf - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 12:43 pm:

    There’s really nothing new except specific numbers in the Comptrollers report, and it really doesn’t matter whether unpaid bills are 153 days or 148 days or i81 days. And it doesn’t really matter whether unpaid bills are 4.5B or 4.7B dollars. We all knew, and know, the numbers are bad and huge and are getting worse. And, playing the blame game doesn’t do much to solve the problem.

  27. - fredformerAnon - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 1:07 pm:

    But Illinois has not become a benevolent state with cash to burn.

    This is where I depart from most of my liberal colleagues. This country can not be a benevolent state because of our debt. Yet most of our decisions are based on benevolence. The only benevolent state today is China for giving us back our money in the form of loans.

  28. - Secret Square - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 1:13 pm:

    “Why do we have BOTH a Treasurer AND a Comptroller?”

    Actually, that is a legacy of another notorious scandal, that of State Auditor Orville Hodge, back in the 1950s. The idea behind separating the offices of treasurer and comptroller was that having the state’s money pass through two people’s hands instead of one would provide more oversight.

  29. - seebee - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 2:04 pm:

    Quinn is not now nor ever going to get serious about fixing our Illinois budget, especially anytime before November 2. Quinn is a partisan democrat hack who is from the city of Chicago. End of story.

  30. - Loop Lady - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 5:06 pm:

    CMS is a gigantic slush fund for state government…who in the name of God knows what is going on there?

  31. - Rod - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 5:41 pm:

    The GDP of Illinois is about $609.6 billion and the Illinois debt is $13.7 billion according to the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. So the debt is 2.25% of Illinois GDP, compare this to the Feds debt which is 94.27% of national GDP. []

  32. - HatShopGirl - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 5:50 pm:

    anon, thanks for setting me straight. I think I have found it, I have been skimming through the document, at the Department’s selected briefing and I am sad to admit this, but I think there should be a tax increase. I haven’t looked at the budget closely, I don’t have that depth of knowledge of accounting (I had 1 year of accounting, so that I could read financial reports required of administrators) and this State Budget requires alot more knowledge than I have.

    Solely on the basis of skimming through the Budget Briefing, I would agree to a modest tax increase in conjuction with cuts in spending.

  33. - Capitol View - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 7:18 pm:

    I haven’t said this for three or four months, so I’ll repeat myself –

    to get IL State Govt. out of its current mess, we need a commitment to modernize our out of date state government revenue system. We are still raising state revenues as if we were still a manufacturing and sales economy, as we were between 1920 - 1950.

    A non-partisan or bi-partisan commission is needed to come to closure on a series of recommendations for updating how the state raises revenues. Most of those findings could probably be written today. They would include:

    1. Add far more services to the state sales tax, starting with those that already collect sales tax as part of their functions;

    2. Pass a constitutional amendment making the state income tax graduated rather than flat;

    3. Pass a law applying the state income tax to total pension income (not including Social Security) over $50K a year;

    4. Probably increase the current state income tax to 5% until the old bills are paid, and the reduce it to 4% - or whatever is equitable under a graduated income tax system, if in place by the time the debts are wiped out (other than full pension system inbalances)

    Not a revenue issue, but permit state employees the option of paying half as much into their pension system if they open an IRA that state government will match 50% of investments up to $10,000/year. This keeps dollars from current workers going into the system while minimizing payouts at the end.

    I’m sure the Director of the IDOR could add two or three additional elements to this commission report pre-draft…

  34. - state employee - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 8:26 pm:

    Lincolnlover–kudos for calling the Gov’s office and enlightening that staff person about our chronic understaffing and that we are and have been doing the jobs of two, three, four+ people for years now!

    Capital View–I agree with you. We need an amendment to a progressive tax (highest earners and incl cap gains need pay more than the meager flat 3%–no other populated state has taxes this low on the super-rich and I’m convinced they are using IL as a tax shelter) and close corporate tax loopholes. There is much resistance to this within the sock-puppet political “leadership” Of course, b/c they are pandering to their very wealthy puppetmasters. BOTH parties, dem and repub.

    I switched agencies, from DHS to HFS, and it’s still way understaffed. But DHS (and DCFS from what I hear from other workers) are absolutely horrendous. Caseloads in Chicago are 1,200 to 2,000 + NOT including covering other caseloads of another 1,200 for weeks or months at a time. The state hasn’t hired caseworkers in…how long is it now?…so long I’m losing track, since spring of 2007? Over 3 years? People are leaving and retiring and no new hires. Clients leave the Northern office in Skokie crying after waiting over 5 hours sometimes b/c of the understaffing. Mentally ill, homeless, disabled, SENIORS, working poor–all made to wait wait wait, and the services suffer. If 500 were a normal caseload that’s 4 times the normal work per person. This also puts the workers at risk of client anger, etc. Directors’ and PSAs hands are tied, unable to hire more workers. Yet politicians including Rep Greg Harris, say there is nothing they can do. From my experience and understanding, Speaker Madigan is largely to blame, in addition to Sen Steans, republicans in the GA, and other ringleaders of pension-erosion schemes and union-bashing schemes.

    I’m absolutely done with the two-parties. I’m voting GREEN and independent ever again.

    I’m trying to be part of a solution in this sad state and country, but I also realize I can’t force other people to change, especially these sociopathic wealthy people and corporations and their sock-puppet politicians.

    And I am considering moving to Canada in the long-term for certain. I’m a hardworking state employee who values helping my clients and the work I do, and feeling the need to move away from all this dysfunction causes conflict and is sad to me.

  35. - Cincinnatus - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 9:32 pm:

    Capitol View,

    Add significant spending restraint and you are starting the process that could lead to a grand compromise.

  36. - Will County Woman - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 10:41 pm:

    Quinn and his camp/administration can keep trying to explain the pay raises away, but the tide is never-ever going to turn in his favor on this. it’s too damaging, and as this report points out:

    “Quinn also said that despite the raises, he has cut his staff and reduced the office’s overall spending by 35 percent. Most of that reduction is slated for the coming year and has not taken place yet. An Associated Press review of documents found that Quinn has given 43 raises averaging 11.4 percent to members of his staff since he became governor, despite the state budget crisis. Most went to people who were given promotions or new jobs, but more than one-third of the raises were not linked to new duties.”—AP/

    =====more than one-third of the raises were not linked to new duties=====.

    Devastating! Totally devastating!

  37. - steve schnorf - Thursday, Jul 8, 10 @ 11:08 pm:

    C and CV, so at least 3 of us look at the problem and can’t see why a reasonable solution can’t be found!

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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