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Echoes of Rod and more budget friction

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010

* Does this sound familiar? Oy

[Gov. Pat Quinn] suggested lawmakers should skip their upcoming spring break to vote on his tax increase.

I hope he’s not thinking of screwing with my spring break with a special session. Frankly, I don’t care if legislators are inconvenienced, but I have plans, and they don’t include Springfield.

…Adding… Tribune

“I really feel the legislature shouldn’t take a break, a holiday, until they vote on this tax increase,” said Quinn during an appearance at Morton Community College in Cicero. “I think when you’re in a crisis, members of the legislature have to have an urgent sense of duty and an urgent sense of acting.”

The governor, however, stopped short of saying he would call a special session to keep lawmakers at the Capitol the last week of March and first week of April.

OK, kill it and leave town then.

* Meanwhile, some people want more

Women leaders from across the state called on Gov. Pat Quinn and legislative leaders today to approve a tax increase that would continue services supported by the state.

The group provided a letter sent to the leaders with more than 200 signatures from women politicians and organization leaders.

And some want less

The plan comes from the Illinois Policy Institute, which is technically nonpartisan but whose views on economic matters bear a close resemblance to those of Bill Brady, the GOP nominee for governor.

In essence, it goes beyond cuts in state employee pensions and Medicaid to focus on a wide and deep range of cuts throughout every level of state government — all $3.7 billion worth of them designed to make the state live within its existing income, as the group puts it.

The plan is here.

Zeroing out programs like local government aid, Advanced Placement, agricultural education, foreign language education, Illinois National Guard and Naval Militia scholarships, home delivered meals to seniors, the Guardianship and Advocacy Commission, and slashing things like the child death review teams at DCFS and cutting Circuit Breaker by 75 percent won’t exactly be politically feasible.

Less…

For instance, asserting that the average state worker makes 15.7% more a year than those in the private sector, the institute proposes to save $900 million by cutting labor costs. Exactly how it would do that isn’t certain, since the state’s workforce is near 20-year lows now and employee unions have been unwilling to open existing contracts.

And less…

Education would get $300 million less than Mr. Quinn proposed, which would put schools $1.6 billion below this year’s level at a time when some districts already are laying off staff. Mr. Tillman responds that the institute would cut spending on extraneous items like preschool, principal mentoring and higher education, to focus the state’s education money on in-classroom work in grade and high schools.

The biggest single cut — more than $2.7 billion — would be in “health and human services.” Some of that is lower salaries for state workers, but much of it is less money for outside grants to community groups, service agencies and the like.

We just went through a huge debate in this state about funding human service groups, led by Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno. I’m sure Radogno won’t be climbing on board any time soon.

…Also… Regarding higher education, from the report…

Students are in the best position to make prudent decisions over their financial and academic futures. As such it was a priority to maintain funding for the Monetary Award Program (MAP), which is a tuition assistance program that enables students of limited means to better afford college. Insofar as reductions were made to direct institutional funding for the state’s four-year universities, community colleges, and support agencies, it was done so in order to allocate higher levels of support for the MAP grant program, which assists students attending all institutions of higher learning in Illinois.

They propose bumping up MAP grants by about $70 million, but cut the University of Illinois’ budget alone by almost $200 million. Not quite an exact tradeoff here.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

44 Comments
  1. - He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 12:56 pm:

    Rich—There is no I in TEAM!! It has been cold in FLorida anyway!


  2. - ok - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 1:00 pm:

    So, essentially, this is the closest thing we have seen yet to Sen. Brady’s budget.

    I don’t know if Brady will be thanking IPI for illuminating the reality of his proposal.


  3. - Old Milwaukee - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 1:02 pm:

    Calling special sessions will only highlight the Governor’s ineffectiveness. Nothing will get resolved and he will look weak. The whole thing about bark being bigger than bite.


  4. - Scooby - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 1:04 pm:

    You know you’re in a weird situation when Naperville is raising taxes. They’ve increased their gasoline tax by two cents/gal and imposed a $2 garbage collection fee.


  5. - Ahoy - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 1:09 pm:

    Hmm, Spring Break in Springfield… we should have fun with that one.


  6. - dupage dan - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 1:14 pm:

    I hear the beach parties along Lake Springfield during spring break rival anything Dayton Beach can offer.


  7. - Anon - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 1:34 pm:

    it would be one thing for the governor to suggest that lawmakers skip their spring break to take up the budget crisis, but for him to suggest that they skip their spring break to vote on a tax increase that nobody wants is just plain crazy


  8. - D.P. Gumby - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 1:36 pm:

    Ok, where is the data to support the fantasy that state workers average 15+% more than private sector–are they defining private sector as migrant workers or minimum wage jobs; are they including high salary state workers like judges and constitutional officers? Figures lie and liars figure and I won’t believe this until I see the comparables.


  9. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 1:39 pm:

    A special session? And just how much additional $$, which it is clear Illinois does not have, will it cost for the legisalture to stay in session…… yeah that’s the answer Pat.


  10. - cassandra - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 1:40 pm:

    It is certainly understandable that employee unions have been unwilling to open up their contracts. Would they under any circumstances? Hard to say. But our Pat gave up some chips when he signed that agreement not to lay any unionized state employees off until after June 2011. Union members don’t even have to take furlough days. Why would AFSCME take him seriously, no matter what he says. The chief executive of our state appears to have no ability to negotiate. This is not good news for the state’s citizens. AFSCME is not governing the state. The Democrats are. Should it be the same thing?

    In the same vein, under the Democrats, AFSCME has negotiated wage increases totaling almost 30 percent over 8 years for its members, beginning with the 2004 contract (13 percent over 4 years, much boasting by AFSCME about the best contract in the country) and now, with the current contract-concludes June 30, 2012–16 percent over four years. In the middle of a deep recession, 29 percent over eight years probably looks pretty amazing to the millions who are unemployed, underemployed, or forced to take reduced work hour. The unions didn’t take the money unilaterally. These contracts were both negotiated by the Democratic politicians who have been running the state since 2004. Pols who benefit greatly from union campaign cash.

    Even those of us who are sympathetic to those concerned about education funding have to wonder what our Pat will actually do with his tax increase money if he gets it. Sure, some of it will go to the schools-a token amount at least. But there will be a whole lot left over, just in time for the next round of union negotiations for the 2012-2016 contract.


  11. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 1:40 pm:

    ===They propose bumping up MAP grants by about $70 million, but cut the University of Illinois’ budget alone by almost $200 million. Not quite an exact tradeoff here.===

    If your goal is to spin off and privatize the public universities, this is how you’d do it. MAP is a voucher program for college. I think IPI would love nothing more than vouchers for K-12 too to kill off public education in Illinois.

    At least they’re consistent, and therefore predictable. And the Tribune called them a “think tank.” That’s pretty funny and says a lot about the Tribune editorial board (none of it good).


  12. - lincolnlover - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 1:41 pm:

    What a ridiculous claim. A certified teacher for the state would make @ $45,000 after 15 years. A certified teacher in my local school district would make about $60,000 after 15 years (assuming they are climbing the continuing education ladder). I would like to see their base data.


  13. - LevivotedforJudy - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 1:41 pm:

    I wish IPI and others would stop using average salaries of state employees as a basis when the actual number of state employees is so low. It’s a swiss cheese argument they are making.


  14. - Will County Woman - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 1:44 pm:

    “I think when you’re in a crisis, members of the legislature have to have an urgent sense of duty and an urgent sense of acting.”–quinn

    he says all of that, yet his budget, one of his his most important and pressing duties, was 3 weeks late? his primary campaign, which was comparatively less important and of less urgence to the needs of illinosians,took top priority for him. now he wants to tell/lecture others to put their political campaigns/agendas aside and tend to the budget? that makes him a do as i say, not as i do governor. bad leadership 101. if it was okay for him to ignore the budget and treat is a a lesser priority, then it’s okay for everyone else to leave it be too.


  15. - james - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 1:58 pm:

    Spring break is for children.


  16. - Montrose - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 1:59 pm:

    Like their piggy book, or whatever they called it, this budget shows little understanding of the interaction between state and federal money or the efficiencies of spending in one area to save money in another, let alone what different line items fund.

    Take supportive housing. They zero out the Mental Health Supportive Housing line, but not the other supportive housing line. Both fund pretty much the same thing, but they probably have no clue about that. They also don’t think about the cost savings on emergency rooms, incarceration, of health care, etc., that comes from having someone housed in permanent supportive housing. They also clearly don’t know anything about the federal medicaid dollars that are brought in through the leveraging of these line items.

    Oh, and there would also be several dozen buildings around the state serving chronically homeless populations that would suddenly have no support services for those individuals anymore. I am sure the communities that have those properties would be ecstatic about that.


  17. Pingback Budget Crisis: The News Next Door | chicago.rssible.com - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 2:00 pm:

    […] Here in Illinois our indicted ex-governor, feckless legislature, relatively long-lived one party dominance, and piquant tendency for corruption all get blame – not undeserved – for the wretched state of the state budget. But as the brilliant Indianapolis blogger Doghouse Riley notes, the situation in Indiana, overseen by a former Bush II OMB director and periodically discussed but hardly likely 2012 Republican presidential candidate, isn’t much better. […]


  18. - Lefty - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 2:04 pm:

    I hope he’s not thinking of screwing with my spring break with a special session. Frankly, I don’t care if legislators are inconvenienced, but I have plans, and they don’t include Springfield.

    Part of the problem!


  19. - Michelle Flaherty - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 2:08 pm:

    If Quinn was in such a hurry to get to work on his budget, perhaps he shouldn’t have asked for three extra weeks to present it.


  20. - OneMan - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 2:29 pm:

    Is there a legislative conference or something where it is warm? Wasn’t that the case a few years ago?


  21. - Plutocrat03 - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 2:35 pm:

    Illinois has been steaming toward this budget collapse for decades. Governor Quinn talked about a need for revenue after he took office, but felt it expedient to kick the can down the road go avoid the issue before the primaries.

    Now we are to believe that the tine is Now?

    Hope the road is long because they will continue to kick the can until it is gone.,.,.,.,


  22. - Skeeter - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 2:36 pm:

    Question for those of us who are not budget experts. Quinn’s plan involves borrowing about $5 billion. Is that correct? IPI’s budget is only about $3.6 billion less, but allegedly involves no tax cut or borrowing.
    How does that work?


  23. - CircularFiringSquad - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 2:55 pm:

    Maybe the Gov could call a special session for just StateWideTom, RxRon & their posse they could talk their hearts out and not be ruled out of order


  24. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 3:00 pm:

    === For instance, asserting that the average state worker makes 15.7% more a year than those in the private sector, the institute proposes to save $900 million by cutting labor costs. ===

    The problem with their methodology is that they are comparing the wages of all state workers to the wages of all private sector employees.

    In other words, they are comparing the salaries of university professors to the salaries of McDonald’s clerks.

    Yes, it may be true that the list of state employees making more than $100,000 includes “administrative assistants, correctional officers, physicians, auditors, highway maintainers, social workers, registered nurses, troopers, research analysts, and plumbers.”

    But according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average plumber in Illinois makes more than $70K a year…and there are 19,000 of them. I can certainly think of several physicians, analysts, registered nurses, executive assistants and auditors making more than $100K in the private sector - in cases much more.

    And if Republicans want to argue that prison guards and state troopers are overpaid, I guess that’s their right. However, the average correctional officer in Illinois makes $52K a year in salary and benefits, the average patrol officer $63K. Hardly outrageous.


  25. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 3:04 pm:

    On Chicago TV and radio, there’s already a lot of sympathetic noise on TV and radio about education cuts already on the way, not including those coming with a reduced state budget.


  26. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 3:14 pm:

    I love the IPI’s proposal. What a piece of work.

    My favorite part of the report is on page 8: “Here is a chart that breaks down household spending of the average Midwestern household by category. We ask Governor Quinn and would-be tax hike supporters: What should families cut from their household budgets to make room for higher tax bills?” (Estimated at $500 for a family of 2.4 with a taxable income of $50K.)

    This is followed with: “Should Illinoisans buy less food? Cut back on insurance coverage? Move into cheaper housing? Buy fewer books? Forgo the next haircut? Cancel the upcoming road trip to Grandma’s house? Save less for retirement? The average Midwest family contributes $1,705 to charity each year; should they reduce their charitable giving to pay higher taxes?”

    The pie chart also includes $450 - alcoholic beverages, $357 - tobacco products, and $2758 - entertainment. Oddly, none of those made the list of places where one might tighten the “kitchen-table budget.” Go figure.


  27. - dupage dan - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 3:16 pm:

    Didn’t Nostradamus warn us about this? Wasn’t there some quatraine about a mysterious RoB and PaQ mentioned? Just askin’.


  28. - Macbeth - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 3:22 pm:


    The pie chart also includes $450 - alcoholic beverages, $357 - tobacco products, and $2758 - entertainment. Oddly, none of those made the list of places where one might tighten the “kitchen-table budget.” Go figure.

    You seriously can’t expect people to cut out drinking, smoking, and movie watching in a recession.

    I mean, if it weren’t for my steady diet of Budweiser, Marlboros, and 3D movies, I would not have made it through these past few years.


  29. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 3:29 pm:

    In this state, the alcohol is clearly a necessity.


  30. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 3:31 pm:

    Dupage Dan, I think you mean this prediction:

    The old lion will overcome the mop head
    Not in feild but in forum
    Man of people brought down by reform people
    Oh the poor people


  31. - Will County Woman - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 3:40 pm:

    “And if Republicans want to argue that prison guards and state troopers are overpaid, I guess that’s their right. However, the average correctional officer in Illinois makes $52K a year in salary and benefits, the average patrol officer $63K. Hardly outrageous.”—ydd

    i agree with you there ydd, and i would not advise republicans to make that argument. they should however talk about quinn’s many patronage hires, despite illinois’ budget crisis, who all make $70K plus, not exactly because of what they know, but because of who they know.


  32. - Steve - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 3:44 pm:

    Speaking of the well to do. Here’s a list of the 100 top public school teachers in Illinois. Isn’t great to know that PE teachers can make over $100,000? Four make over $174,000. Click on the link .
    http://nalert.blogspot.com/2010/03/top-100-teacher-salaries-in-illinois-in.html


  33. - Need a break? - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 3:54 pm:

    There are plenty of staffers and senators with plans too, Rich. Session days are not 8:30 to 4:30…they’re more like 7 am to 10 pm. Everyone needs a break.


  34. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 3:55 pm:

    … RoB and PaQ …

    Dan, Nostradamus warned us about RoBu, but he is in DC and not involved here.


  35. - Michelle Flaherty - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 4:50 pm:

    Steve, I’d bet those PE teachers are also football or bball coaches and get big stipends for that. Not excusing, just offering a possible explanation.


  36. - TheCantrallKid - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 5:03 pm:

    Most ridiculous, eliminating the entire budget of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. I’m sure that would go over as well as the historic sites and state parks being closed last year. Chock that one under not politically feasible and incredibly stupid.


  37. - Steve - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 5:04 pm:

    They’ve probably had a better year than our last 2 Governors.


  38. - Living in Oklahoma - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 5:32 pm:

    I am on board with the Policy Institute budget. In case anyone missed it….we are out of money here and we cant print any. Illinois lived beyond our means for eons and now no one wants to face the music.

    Is the policy institute plan politically possible….well of course not, but I am learning that nothing difficult is ever possible in Illinois. Sweep the problems under the rug, kick the can down the road, then raise taxes. How long can we repeat that plan?


  39. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 6:33 pm:

    Living in Oklahoma: How about paying for what we expect from the state? And, more importantly, paying for what we have already received. That is another way to act responsibly.


  40. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 6:47 pm:

    Steve,

    That is, in part, an artifact of our school funding mechanism. The wealthy school districts pay top dollar and attract, presumably, the best teachers on the market. Property tax, not state dollars, allows the excess in teacher as well as administrator pay. (The supt. for Niles West made $400K+) Welcome to the free market. Under IPI’s proposal, this would not change; in fact, the difference between the rich and poor districts would probably grow.


  41. - Steve - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 9:49 pm:

    I hope those school districts aren’t expecting the state of Illinois taxpayers to pick up those pensions when things go bad?


  42. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 10:30 pm:

    ===Spring break is for children.
    ===

    Everyone in Springfield looks old enough to go away for the week, as real children do. I don’t think people will be impressed by a special session–especially this year.


  43. - Das Man - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 10:40 pm:

    I heard Leader Cross on the House Floor this afternoon claim they had been “getting out early” for most of the past week - and that their side was willing to work late into the day (4:00 in today’s case). Right after he said that at 1:45, he took his party to caucus (or else got some pizza…).

    Let them spend Spring Break playing games & sustaining the Chair 69/44 till their blue in the face. Lots of folks are taking “staycations” these days in this economy.

    No rest for the wicked, and the GA doesn’t need it. As Rep Nekritz intimated recently, they can fiddle while Illinois churns


  44. - Mike - Wednesday, Mar 17, 10 @ 7:27 am:

    I am sorry, but it is an issue of trust. The state is out of money, and they are coming to me with hat in hand. First make cuts; maybe half of what the IPI proposal suggests, and then I might want to give more money. The people of Illinois have constructed this government over the last 30 yrs or so, and we now bear the consequences which are going to have to be met. No tax fairy is going to save us.


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