* A series of press conferences by the Responsible Budget Coalition got quite a bit of media play…
Illinois legislators should return to Springfield and not leave again without delivering a “responsible state budget,” according to the Responsible Budget Coalition, a group of teachers, activists, health advocates and civic leaders. The group held news conferences Tuesday in East St. Louis and in seven other cities
But the resounding message delivered by nine people including social services workers from various agencies and retired professionals was emphatic - Illinois lawmakers need to return to Springfield and produce a more responsible state budget to keep social service agencies intact for the clients they serve.
The message was delivered in a mannerly fashion during a news conference by Southern Illinois members of the Responsible Budget Coalition.
* The solution the coalition wants is House Bill 174, the tax increase which passed the Senate last year. But even Senators who voted for that bill will tell you that there are flaws which need to be addressed before it becomes law. Nobody really thought that thing would pass the Senate, so it wasn’t as meticulously vetted as it otherwise would’ve been. Some House Democrats, for instance, derided some of the bill’s new service taxes, including on diaper services.
The coalition also doesn’t want any more big cuts. From an RBC press release…
Coalition members note that, when legislators left Springfield, they were considering slashing more resources from schools, health and human services, public-safety efforts and other critical priorities that already have suffered brutal cuts this year. These cuts would cost the state tens of thousands of local as well as state jobs – from teachers, police and firefighters to private-sector providers of mental health, care for seniors and the disabled, and other services that contract with the state.
Trouble is, even if 174 passed the House and was signed into law, it would still not fill that huge budget hole. Big cuts would still be necessary, and big cuts will almost all have to come from “slashing more resources from schools, health and human services, public-safety efforts and other critical priorities.”
The hard truth is that there are just no magic beans for anybody in this mess. Coalition members sometimes get all misty-eyed when talking about 174, as if it will solve everything. But if the coalition wants to avoid deep spending cuts, it’ll need a much bigger tax hike than 174. Much. Some, not all but some, of the coalition’s leaders are not being fully honest with their members about this point. Don’t assume your problems will disappear even if your magic solution somehow becomes a reality.
* In other magic beans news, a group of state Senators has called on the new University of Illinois president to refuse part of his huge salary and freeze tuition instead. From a press release…
Students, faculty, staff and Illinois legislators—Senators Rickey Hendon, Kimberly Lightford and Marty Sandoval—call on incoming University of Illinois President Michael Hogan to freeze tuition and forego his $170,000 salary increase.
With a current Illinois budget deficit of $12.8 billion, the University of Illinois is imposing furlough days and layoffs on employees across the university system. The University Board of Trustees is also contemplating an increase in student tuition that would put the U of I tuition among the highest in the nation.
President Hogan should accept the same $450,000 salary as former Illinois President B. Joseph White; as a gesture of goodwill in this difficult economy. “Our hard-working members are asked to take pay cuts through furlough days and even accept layoffs. Sacrifice should start at the top,” said Christine Boardman, President of SEIU Local 73.
* Meanwhile, I told subscribers about this group last week…
A group comprised mostly of suburban Democrats wants the governor to freeze millions worth of state contracts and explore other options rather than unilaterally cut spending if he expects their votes for a state budget plan.
The nearly dozen Democrats involved came together after budget plans pegged on borrowing were rejected by the Illinois House earlier this month. A teleconference Tuesday among the lawmakers was the latest action.
State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a Northbrook Democrat, said those involved are trying to come up with a “doable” plan that could be unveiled in the coming days. Lawmakers are expected back at the Capitol next week for another run at the state budget. […]
State Rep. Carol Sente, a Vernon Hills Democrat appointed to the House late last year, said the goal is to get enough members on board to block approval of existing budget plans until better alternatives are offered.
“We need to flip our own party,” Sente told the Daily Herald.
They will make some inroads, but don’t expect them to push this thing into overtime.
* Related and a roundup…
* Open season on teachers: You will be used as a cop-out, an excuse to explain how this rudderless state of ours was steered into financial ruin.
* Cabbies urging Gov. Quinn to block a raise in airport taxi tax
* Funding for poison center may end, despite 100,000 calls yearly
* Legislative break resolves nothing
* Well-paid lawmakers not working hard enough
* Quinn reaching out to lawmakers over budget
* Illinois lawmakers think budget is near
* Union, service leaders ask legislators to raise revenue
* Kristina Rasmussen: State can balance budget without tax hike, borrowing
* Tim Davlin: Pension fix idea no help to taxpayers: While your editorial, “Pass a pension fix for police, firefighters,” is accurate in highlighting the urgent need for lawmakers to prioritize this critical issue, it fails to inform your readers of the significant tax burden they would be faced with if the state legislature passes House Bill 5873.
* What lawmakers did, didn’t do this session
* Poshard is confident in borrowing bill by July
* IBHE chair applauds SIU for tuition
* End Illinois’ corrupt scholarship program
* State Capitol Q&A: Gaming machines at horse tracks
* Ala. company to pay IDOT $40 million to settle suit over damaged road in McCook
* Quinn should OK telecom bill