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Not scary enough, or is it?

Thursday, Feb 25, 2010

* Sorry, but you’re just not gonna scare many people with $2 billion in cuts

Gov. Pat Quinn laid the groundwork Wednesday for another push at an income tax hike, previewing a grim spending plan that would severely cut money for education, social services and public safety yet still leave the state with a yawning budget gap. […]

Quinn unveiled the gloomy picture on a state Web site,, asking citizens to e-mail any ideas that might help alleviate a budget shortfall he estimates at more than $11 billion.

And that’s after Quinn’s proposed $2 billion in cuts, including $922 million from elementary and high school spending, and about $400 million from public universities and colleges. Human services programs would take a $400 million hit and public safety would lose $69 million.

Then again

A spokeswoman for House Republican Leader Tom Cross terms the Guv’s plan “a set up” that seeks to force lawmakers into raising taxes by clobbering school spending.

Um, Tom? Dude, these proposed cuts are nothing considering the overall budget hole.

* Meanwhile, subscribers know the answer to this question

House Speaker Michael Madigan, D­Chicago, would not say Wednesday if he ad­vised Quinn to avoid calling for a tax hike now.

My own personal opinion is that Quinn should not ask for a tax hike and just run a very real, very stark budget without new revenues. The governor disagrees

Quinn supported an income tax hike, and various tax hike proposals could raise $3 bil­lion to $5 billion.

“I don’t think he’s wavered at all,” Vaught said of Quinn’s stance.

Bill Brady had some harsh criticisms about the tax hike plan

State Sen. Bill Brady, the Bloomington Republican running for governor, said a Quinn-backed tax increase would hurt the Illinois economy.

“The governor is out in left field here. I mean, he’s completely out of line. People are struggling in Illinois,” said Brady, who contended higher taxes would drive away more jobs and put more Illinois families at risk. “I’m hopeful that we’re able to persuade whoever we have to persuade that this is absolutely the wrong time to increase the tax rate.”

Brady has maintained he would address the budget woes largely by making across-the-board cuts in spending, rolling back taxes and fees, including the estate tax, and taking advantage of economic growth that would respond to a better business climate. Brady would not answer whether borrowing would be needed under his approach.

* And while the governor and the GA decide what to do, some local schools are hoping to try something new

The Jamaica school district in southern Vermilion County could save as much as $100,000 a year by moving to a four-day school week, Superintendent Mark Janesky said Wednesday.

Janesky and state Rep. Bill Black, R-Danville, appeared before the House Education Committee to promote Black’s bill that would allow school districts to lengthen their school day while shortening their school week. The bill is being held in committee, Black said, while the State Board of Education reviews it.

I read somewhere that a Utah legislator has proposed balancing that state’s budget by eliminating 12th Grade.

Your thoughts?

* Related…

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* State Senate restricts legislative scholarships: The measure would ban a legislator from giving a scholarship to someone whose family could be linked to a campaign contribution within the previous five years. In addition, family members of a scholarship recipient could not give a campaign contribution for five years to a lawmaker who distributed the award.

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* How your lawmakers voted

* Illinois House votes to limit free rides for seniors

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Robert - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 10:16 am:

    to balance the budget requires three things: higher taxes, fighting the unions on pay and pensions, and cutting spending. good luck doing much of any of those things in an election year.

  2. - Bill - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 10:19 am:

    The Jamaica district could probably a save a lot more money if they passed a bill allowing districts to not have Superintendents, school business managers, and a district office full of administrative employees.

  3. - OneMan - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 10:27 am:

    Would you feel the same way Bill if administrators were in the teachers union?

  4. - Former Card Carrying Repub - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 10:29 am:

    In referencing Bill’s remark, do these administrators really need these hefty salaries? Do any of us in Public Service? Look, if you can’t live on 50-60k a year as opposed to 110k, then you are spending your money on a 4000/sq ft home, a German auto, and have too much desposable income. If people would just accept the fact that they aren’t worth that much in these tough economical times, we could all work together.

    I wish I made more and could vacation more. But I’m not THAT unhappy and I eat pretty well. My kids’ education is getting paid for (yes, private), and I make under the number I posted above.

    No one will say it, but I will: If you are a spoke in the wheel (state employee/gov’t/school district), then you are part of the equation. A lot these fancy spokes need to be traded in/pawned for sturdy, realistic costing spokes.


  5. - Bill - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 10:29 am:


  6. - tubbfan - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 10:30 am:

    Seems to me the four day week and other “out of the box” alternatives need to be seriously considered across the board. I don’t know whether our legislators are up to the task.

  7. - Robert - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 10:32 am:

    interesting idea, Former Card Carrying Repub - cap all salaries and all pensions (post-double dipping) at $60k. People say you’d lose the best talent to the private sector if you cap public salaries but I’m not convinced; you may just lose the greediest talent, not the true public servants. I wonder how much capping everything at $60k would total in savings?

  8. - Plutocrat03 - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 10:34 am:

    So it was OK to spend the entire past year muddling around and doing nothing to solve the budget problems, but now we have to move forward?

    Whatever credibility the Governor had was lost by his callous pandering for votes.

    Everyone who will lose services, pay or has their taxes raised had one political party to thank. Guess which one?

  9. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 10:35 am:

    Why doesn’t Quinn draw up a proposed spending plan that balances with projected revenues? It could be summarized in a page and put on the website.

    Let that be the start of the debate, such as it will be.

  10. - OneMan - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 10:37 am:

    At this point you need the major cuts to happen before anything will happen.

  11. - lake county democrat - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 10:48 am:

    Could the CTA’s recent “doomsday” experience influence the state budget? The general consensus I’ve heard is that the CTA has done a pretty good job minimizing the impact of the service cuts so that they aren’t nearly as bad as people feared. Combine that with the money they look to get by closing Blago’s senior-free-rides loophole. Will this influence other voters (particularly in Chicagoland) who will think “these budget cuts aren’t that bad — it’ll make ‘em tighten their belts” with respect to the state budget?

    I know that may be stretching things, but I thought it’s worth considering.

  12. - Bill - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 10:57 am:

    There are two components necessary to have school… teachers and students. When cuts have to be made those should be the last two components to get hit. It is not a union issue it is a common sense issue. What does a superintendent do to earn two or three times or more what the average teacher in the district makes. What do his numerous assistants do? Do you think that a student in that school even knows who the Supt. is? Would the students even know if the Supt. wasn’t there anymore?
    Chicago has over 150 administrators that make more than the mayor. Who do they layoff in a crisis? Certainly not themselves.

  13. - Montrose - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 11:06 am:

    Anyone else notice that the link to the most useful/user-friendly budget document they had put up yesterday is no longer on the budget site?

    You can still get to it from the link below:

  14. - Greg B. - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 11:09 am:

    The gov. starts with cuts to education, public safety and human services because that’s what citizens prioritize. Go after the things the public believes govt. should do first is business as usual. I think Tom Cross is right to point that out.

    Now, doesn’t mean these things shouldn’t be cut, and you can’t cut seriously w/out cutting Medicaid and education, but to lead with priorities instead of all the other crap state government does is the cynical ploy that Illinois officials always lead with.

    Rich is right to point out the proverbial drop in the budget; Tom is correct that this is a tactic.

    Why not start with all those redundant programs identified a few years ago by Bill Holland. Then move on to some of those agencies that while important aren’t at the top of the list like education, health care and public safety are?

    They’d be drop in the buckets, too. But I think they’d generate some good will. Of course the pols buying votes by supporting those, would cry foul… Of course that’s their priority — themselves not the people of Illinois or the Illinois economy. Best, they hold the priorities hostage for more tax dollars to protect their fiefdoms. They keep their pets and get more money to spend.

  15. - zatoichi - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 11:26 am:

    At what point do the local school boards go for huge increases (100%+) in property taxes? Colleges double tuition? Close U of I and make everyone go to a local community college for two years then regional state college. $2B ain’t squat when you face a $13B hole. Cutting taxes would bring in how much extra money?

  16. - OneMan - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 11:27 am:


    A) I completely agree with you.

    B) I was trying to yank your chain a bit with the union question (you didn’t bite, figured it was worth a shot)

    C) So if the administrators were union members your viewpoint would not change?

  17. - steve schnorf - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 11:49 am:

    It feels as if we are sailing on a ship of fools. The Governor doesn’t target education etc in order to scare the populous. He does it because there and Corrections are really the only places you can go when you are looking for billions in cuts (and we are going to be looking for more billions).

  18. - vole - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 12:01 pm:

    That can we kicked down the road all these years has become an IED that no one in state government has the armor, the intelligence, or the courage to defuse. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 … WAIT!, we can borrow some more money and time, right, after the next election? Boy, this democracy is just the peach.

  19. - Louis Howe - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 12:18 pm:

    The problem for Democrats is they have constituent interest groups at every level of the proposed cuts. Democrats are the party that guarantees government will do things. Unfortunately, the Blagojevich/Quinn administration and the legislature have so mismanaged government operations, including the budget, that they haven’t enough creditability with the voters to ask for a tax increase.

  20. - steve schnorf - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 12:31 pm:

    Louis, there may be validity to what you say. However, I still believe it is impossible for the Rs in the GA to recommend (or even commit to voting for) cuts sufficient to balance the budget.

    We too have interest groups we care about, and recommending or voting to cut them wouldn’t be easy. So far we’ve succeeded in staying on the sidelines under the political wisdom of why get involved in something that the other party is busy destroying themselves with. But in my opinion it’s bot good governing.

  21. - vole - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 12:51 pm:

    Long overlooked and much needed:
    A independent performance audit on every state agency, division, department, facility, and employee to determine their missions, effectiveness, and efficiency.

    What is their mission? Is that mission still needed? Who or what does it serve? Can the private sector doe it more cost effectively and efficiently? Or can that mission just be abandoned with minimal pain? Where has mission creep taken state government far out on the limb of sustainability? Pruning is in order.

    People say that there is not much more waste that can be cut out of state government. This really does need to be questioned.

    Almost every corporation in the US has undergone some kind of performance audit. And in many cases entire departments or divisions have seen the axe. Time for our state government to follow down this painful path.

  22. - Some Guy - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 1:26 pm:

    Greg B, those areas you mention are where the biggest deficits are. Any plan that DOESN’T cut something there is not going to be enough.

    Everybody is afraid to do what is necessary.

    My take on it:

    Level spending budget for two years, no increases. This has be de facto pretty much anyway the last 2 years.

    Maintain a REAL hiring freeze except for public safety: state cops, firefighters, prison guards. Hiring is to 1-for-1 replace immediate attrition only, (not any backlogged attrition) and that’s the case for two years, after which, we re-compute things.

    Income tax increase, raise it a point and a half, live with whatever it brings in. Sin taxes to go up, up to another 5%. Set up the constitutional mechanisms for discussing and moving a tax swap between property tax and income/sales taxes.

    Road contractors building new roads will be responsible for their repair, the funds to come out of their initial contract. If you build a poor road, fixing it comes out of your pocket, not the state’s. They do this in Europe for superhighways and the roads last way longer because there is no incentive to make money off repairs after the construction.

    Cut the green wire on the pension debt bomb: negotiate with AFSCME to close the door on the current pension plan, the old one will be held sacrosanct for everyone now on it. But all new hires coming in during/after the 2-year freeze will have a new, separate pension plan that makes more sense for the new age we live in, one where folks won’t work more then ten years with the state before moving on, that’s the new reality of work everywhere. Their benefits will be front-loaded to be enjoyed while they are still working, and the pension much more modest.

    The lower pension may be offset by a higher pay during their working years, or the union can be put in charge of that pension fund themselves. (with safeguards) The pension debt is going to take a long time to chip away at, but at least we will have stopped the bleeding. We can’t keep letting this thing gain more mass or it becomes a black hole. The only other way is to let the feds take it over, and I don’t think that can happen.

    Dedicated funds will no longer be swept to the GRF. The money goes where we promised it would. Dedicated funds with a surplus of more than 10 percent rainy-day funds will reduce the fees they charge, so as not to become cash hogs but only pay as you go providers, they will be cut loose from the main budget and left to succeed only on their own funds, so people that want and need the particular service fund it and people who don’t, won’t. You can’t do this for every agency and program; it wouldn’t be right or smart, but a pay as you go system for every new law or service that CAN work this way, will help keep some continuity of services. With continuity, you can make long range plans that save money.

    Stimulus money is to be released promptly, as soon as it becomes available, none of this sitting around stuff. Tobacco money is to be spent on tobacco-related health care issues/programs and not to be used like a free lotto ticket.

    That’s all I have right now, my soup is getting cold.

  23. - Ghost - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 2:51 pm:

    Brady explain how removing 13 billion in spending frm the economy helps it? how deos causing thousands of business’s in Il to go bankrupt becuase they do not get their bills paid help the economy?

    When a private buisness dicvoers the cost of its goods is less then what it spends to make them it raises prices; when a family finds they need more reveneue they go out and get second jobs to increase reveneue.

    No one has ever successfully improved the economy by removing money and spendign from circulation.

    But then again, your on top of those rampant gay and marriage problems facing the state so probably dont have time for basic economics.

  24. - Six Degrees of Separation - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 3:19 pm:

    cap all salaries and all pensions (post-double dipping) at $60k.

    Entry level engineers get offers like that.

    Also, the pension cap would need to apply to “new hires only” b/c of constitutional requirements, and won’t produce any budget effect til 30 years, at which time the cap might be raised several times already due to inflation.

  25. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 4:01 pm:

    –Long overlooked and much needed:
    A independent performance audit on every state agency, division, department, facility, and employee to determine their missions, effectiveness, and efficiency.–

    The Auditor General reports are excellent. All you have to do is read them.

  26. - irv fan - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 7:16 pm:

    Doing away with grade 12 of high school could achieve several goals…1. It could solve the problem of unmotivated high schoolers who have long since achieved the number of credits for graduation, 2. It could end the pedagogically questionable move toward dual credit programs, 3. Ending dual credit would save money by ending the double dipping by K-12 districts and community colleges for the same headcount.

  27. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 9:37 pm:

    word, I’ve thought for awhile if more people read those reports (like the most recent 47-finding whopper on DoC) the competence or lack thereof) card could be smacked down on Quinn/Blago a lt harder.

    Most of what Holland’s auditors find isn’t happening because budgets have been cut. Things are happening because nitwits (still) run most of the agencies.

  28. - Will County Woman - Friday, Feb 26, 10 @ 2:35 am:

    - Plutocrat03 - Thursday, Feb 25, 10 @ 10:34 am:

    So it was OK to spend the entire past year muddling around and doing nothing to solve the budget problems, but now we have to move forward?

    Whatever credibility the Governor had was lost by his callous pandering for votes.

    Everyone who will lose services, pay or has their taxes raised had one political party to thank. Guess which one?



    what really gets me is that quinn put off the budget and made it a lower priority to his political campaigning. now, he’s all urgent about the budget and acting like becuase it is only now a pressing priority for him everybody is supposed to ask how high? when he says jump. whatever, quinn. whatever. those who have been paying attention are aware of your lack of concern about the budget. we know the games you are playing and crocodile tears you are shedding.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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