* The legislative leaders are meeting today in Chicago. We’ll have more on that later this morning or early in the afternoon…
Southland Sen. Christine Radogno (R-Lemont), minority leader for the chamber, said the governor has not met Republican demands for pension and Medicaid reforms to the governmental process before negotiating a final budget.
“None of that has occurred,” she said Tuesday.
There is a possibility the Legislature could be called to Springfield to implement a temporary budget for human services, she said, to avoid these drastic cuts.
“This is an appalling shakedown of the human service providers and constituents,” Radogno said of Quinn’s negotiating tactics. “Threatening them until they feel they have no choice but a tax increase. It’s just unconscionable in my view.”
Keep in mind that serious pension reforms have been on the table since Gov. Quinn’s budget address, and the GOP balked.
And Mark Brown has an answer for Leader Radogno…
…(A)ny realistic look at this situation would indicate we can’t cut our way entirely out of our immediate problem, at least not without abandoning too many of the people state government is supposed to help.
Those are the folks who benefit from the state’s social service programs: women in domestic-violence shelters, people in drug and alcohol rehab, single mothers receiving child-care assistance so they can work, children in foster care and those who care for them, plus many more.
Some will suspect these type programs have been singled out to get sympathy, but the fact is that once you pay for the stuff that the state is pretty much legally obligated to do, this is the area you have left. That’s what state government does. You probably don’t want them turning loose the prisoners or cutting funding to schools.
That’s mostly true. And it’s tough to cut education much more this year anyway because of the federal stimulus rules. Still…
State education leaders thought they’d submitted a lean budget proposal to the General Assembly earlier this year, but now it looks like they’ll have to cut closer to the bone.
Members of the Illinois State Board of Education will talk today about ways to slice roughly $400 million from the proposed education budget. The new cuts, which would not affect general state aid or mandated services like special education, were made necessary by the state budget lawmakers approved last month, officials say.
The necessary cuts amount to roughly 50 percent of nonmandated programming expenses.
* But there are more problems ahead. Our quote of the day goes to Sen. Donne Trotter…
“The former lieutenant governor is used to throwing rocks, he’s not used to catching them.”
* The threatened cuts certainly look grim. For instance…
Because of its budget woes, the state of Illinois will no longer pay for funerals for the indigent.
The president of a Chicago nonprofit agency had a question Tuesday for Gov. Quinn’s administration: Where should he take all the people with disabilities and mental illness who will lose their homes if the state budget is slashed?
“We will not be accused of putting them in the street,” warned Allan Bergman, CEO of the Anixter Center, which could see its state funding cut by a third — about $7 million.
Bergman got no answer.
Drug treatment centers for single mothers and their children, DCFS programs, employee layoffs, etc. But is the pressure working? Not yet…
State Rep. Pat Verschoore, D-Milan, for example, was among 42 Democrats who backed the income tax when it fell short of the 60 votes it needed for passage in the House.
He said concerns being raised by social service agencies could help pressure Republican lawmakers to vote for a hike.
“I know I’m not the only one who is receiving calls,” Verschoore said. “Maybe it will help sway people.”
“I think that’s an unlikely scenario,” answered state Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon.
But there are tiny cracks…
Rep. Raymond Poe, R-Springfield, said about 60 AFSCME members had come to his office Tuesday to press for a tax hike. The Service Employees International Union, which represents many people employed through local service agencies, and nine officials with local service providers also came by to lobby, Poe said.
“I told every one of them I had an open mind,” he said. “If we (Republicans) are part of negotiations, I will keep an open mind.”
He stopped short, though, of promising to support a tax increase. Poe previously had said he would stick with the House Republican caucus that wants budget “reforms” before supporting higher taxes. Those include things like changes to pension benefits and bringing managed-care programs to Medicaid.
“I hope things work out in two weeks,” Poe said.
Sen. Luechtefeld is starting to see reality…
State Sen. David Luechtefeld, R-Okawville said there is an element of fear mongering on the part of the Governor and that politics are undoubtedly at play between Quinn and House Speaker Mike Madigan. That said, Luechtefeld conceded that the threats could become a reality and that he has no expectations on when a more complete budget might be passed, if at all.
“It (these cuts) could take effect,” he said. “The state is in terrible shape, and there’s just an awful lot of people caught in this and that’s a shame.”
* Illinois Lawmakers Ponder Dangerous Politics of Tax Hikes
* Quinn looks ready to drag legislators back to Springfield
* Quinn: Legislature should return next week
* Lawmakers to return ‘very shortly’ to revisit tax hike
* Quinn Could Call for Special Session
* An Illinois Senator Wants a Special Session
* How other states approached budget crises
* AFSCME: Cutting jobs won’t fix the problem