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New budget proposal emerges

Monday, May 24, 2010

* A group of House Democrats held a press conference this morning in Chicago to talk about their new budget-cutting ideas. You can listen to the entire presser by clicking here.

Most of this stuff is already old news to subscribers. They’re looking at $300 million in cuts to K-12 education - $200 million to mandated categoricals, and $100 million to grants. Another $100 million would be cut from universities. A 5 percent cut to operations, which works out to $300 million, including for statewide officials. Contracts would not be renewed without being rebid or renegotiated, which could save as much as $500 million, they claim. They also want state retiree/dependent health insurance premiums would rise, bringing in $100 million. They want $200 million in efficiencies and savings in Medicaid. Also, salaries and benefits for part-time state boards and commissions would be eliminated.

Other stuff from Melissa Hahn’s Twitter feed

Group of Democrat lawmakers outlining cuts that can be made to state operations, including cuts to schools and gov’t contracts.

These Chicago-area Representatives also want retirees to pay more for healthcare.

…and increases in what families pay to be a part of Medicaid programs.

Rep. from Urbana, also part of this group, pushes furloughs (which unions have opposed) and lower mileage reimbursements for state workers.

Plus a 5% cut to the legislature’s budget.

…Adding… The SJ-R focused solely on the proposed retiree health cuts

“As much as we love our retirees, this is a tough love exercise,” said Rep. Karen May, D-Highland Park. “They have to feel the pain.”

May said 25 percent of state retirees are not old enough to qualify for federal Medicare coverage and 95 percent of retired state employees do not pay health care premiums.

“We are the only state that is this generous,” May said.

More details about another group working on the budget

Quinn has been meeting with members of the legislative Black Caucus who have sought his assurance that cuts he would make under the proposed emergency powers for himself would not be to teen-reach programs, summer jobs for youth, early childhood education, family case management, child care that supports low-income mothers, violence prevention programs, teacher programs like “grow your own teacher,” alternative education programs, digital divide programs, HIV outreach, adult education, etc.

“Lots of legislators have individual programs or causes they have worked for,” Quinn said. “I’m not excited about cutting education.”

Asked Friday if further cuts to the Department of Corrections would mean more early-release of prisoners, a practice that has already brought bad press for Quinn, the governor said, “No.” He said he hopes not to cut from corrections, health or education. Of course, those areas account for most of the spending in the budget.

* Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune editorial board trotted out its goofy, discredited budget plan again today

Three months ago, on Feb. 28, we offered an option that’s still available: at least $6.4 billion in recurring savings that would in time nix the deficit:

Then they go on to rehash their horrifically vague and no-can-do “plan.” As I’ve pointed out before, a $6.4 billion cut does not equal $13 billion, no matter how long that cut (which is mostly imaginary anyway) stays in place. It cuts $6.4 billion (which it doesn’t, but just saying) and not $13 billion. Pretty simple mathematics. No wonder that company went bankrupt.

And this is hilarious…

We were pleased to hear the governor’s top staffers suggest that Illinois can’t erase its $13 billion budget deficit — recklessly accumulated over several years — in one budget.

I don’t know of a single plan that would wipe out the deficit in one year, Democratic or Republican. But, in order to do it a step at a time, borrowing has to be done, and so does deferrals. The Tribune calls borrowing to make the pension payment “madness,” but whether you borrow for pensions or borrow for something else, it’s still borrowing. Man, are they dense over there.

* Speaking of silly editorials

If Illinois’ elected officials truly are serious about creating a responsible budget, they would freeze the wages of all government employees.

No raises. No steps or lanes. No cost of living increases. Nothing.

Instead, the budget that Gov. Pat Quinn has proposed calls for $1.5 billion more in spending with $350 million of that money dedicated to increasing wages for government union employees.

Some of those raises range from 7 percent to 20 percent — unheard-of amounts in the private sector where most of the taxpayers work.

If the Rockford paper knows how to bust AFSCME’s contract, then it should speak up now. If not, it should retract that goofy editorial.

* Funny

Two East Central Illinois Republican legislators will not support a state budget proposal containing an income tax increase unless the state first substantially cuts spending.

State Rep. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, said he believes the state will not have a balanced budget until wasteful spending is cut. He said Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposed income tax increase would still leave an approximately $4 billion “hole” in the budget.

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that Rose wouldn’t support a tax increase no matter how much was cut from the budget. There’s just no way.

* Related…

* Ex-state budget officials pessimistic on deficit: “There’s no longer a path out of this… They are in the worst of all worlds,” Schnorf said. “The new governor is going to have to come in here with the intention that his entire term is going to be solely dedicated to the budget and making terrible, terrible decisions,” added Joan Walters, another of Edgar’s budget chiefs. “Under the best of circumstances, it will be several years before we get back on track,” said Dawn Clark Netsch, a former state comptroller.

* Editorial: Don’t throw in the towel

* Voice of The Southern: Elected officials must serve voters, or pay the price

* The story goes on and on

* Can we suspend state’s ‘license’?

* Budget plan doesn’t inspire confidence

* Lawmakers to work on state budget … again

* Illinois Lawmakers Head Back to Work on Budget

* Statehouse Insider: Will things go from bad to worse?

* Govern like a leader, not a politician

* Quinn says lawmakers shouldn’t be ‘irresponsible’ on pensions

* Our Opinion: Make pension payment top budget priority

* Quinn won’t use budget power to raise state retiree insurance rates

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - 47th Ward - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 1:21 pm:

    First the good news: these legislators should be applauded for earning their paycheck by coming up with specific places to cut. Bravo to Elaine Nekritz and the others for doing the hard work required.

    Now the bad news: if they hold out for their plan and the GA blows the May 31st adjournment, it’s going to be a long hot summer in Springfield.

    If I understand the current situation correctly, one approach is to give the Governor the authority to cut where he deems appropriate. The other is to specify cuts.

    When this governor says “trust me,” smart people should run the other way.

  2. - OneMan - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 1:26 pm:

    They lost in the first minute of the presser when they said

    “Get ahead of this budget crisis”

    You are about 2 years to late for that…

  3. - Rich Miller - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 1:28 pm:

    ===it’s going to be a long hot summer in Springfield.===

    And a very cold autumn!

  4. - Captain Flume - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 1:35 pm:

    First of all, no plan for making up the deficit in one year is doable. It will take at least 3-4 years with cuts, then freezes, on expenditures and at least a temporary tax increase over that time.

    Any group that feels its particluar cause is exempt, especially if that cause was intitiated or saw funding increases since FY2003, is a part of the problem and that problem won’t solved by caving to those interests.

    As far as the goofiness of budget-balancing ideas in editorials and elsewhere, at least some ideas are being vented, and vetted. No one has come up with an “aha!” proposal that gets even grudging nods of appreciation, largely because there is none.

  5. - Ghost - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 1:36 pm:

    Part of this multi year dig out needs to be the establishment of a rainy day/emergency fund so the next economic donwturn does not propel us this far into crisis.

    But frankly, a good chunk of this mess was Filan creative accounting an using one time generation of funds to expand/create spending programs.

    While I am dreaming, perhaps a prohibition on budgeting for long term programs without identifying long term funding.

  6. - ok - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 1:38 pm:

    I don’t think Quinn really wants the absolute authority and resulting responsibility of doing all the cutting himself.

    If he thinks he does now, he won’t in a few months.

  7. - Fed up - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 1:39 pm:

    From reading what Isnt going to cut it is plain to see that this is a farce. I am against cuts to education but it’s % of the budget is to big to escape cuts. Even with a tax hike deep cuts need to be made. Make real cuts and get us to a sustainable budget. Yes it will hurt bad for a year or two but the medicine that works seldom tastes good.

  8. - steve schnorf - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 1:40 pm:

    As i watch this budget process, a refrain from an old truck drivin’ song runs thru my mind; “there ain’t no easy road”

  9. - erstwhilesteve - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 1:41 pm:

    Where are the list of cuts posted?

  10. - ok - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 1:43 pm:

    Also, Ghost, I cringe a little when I hear legislators and others blame this mess on Filan and Rod & Co. only.

    It seems to me to be a way to avoid responsibility.

    I seem to recall the last few budget were passed over his objections and his cuts were reversed.

    The GA can’t avoid all responsibility for the mess.

  11. - steve schnorf - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 1:43 pm:

    Rich, you appear convinced that neither Righter nor Rose would vote for a tax increase under any circumstances. I don’t think that is accurate. I think either or both might as part or a reasonable plan to get the state’s spending back on track with it’s revenues.

  12. - He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 1:43 pm:

    I think the Legislature should cut: Per diem, their salary (after all they are part time) and their pension. Lead by example first!!!

    Are they pushing the Furlough days based on thier formula (365 day/ year) or what they are making the regular state employees (240 days/year).

    I hope they all get voted out.

  13. - cassandra - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 1:50 pm:

    The state retirees in Highland Park won’t have any trouble paying increased insurance premiums, that’s for sure. But since our Pat has flip-flopped once on this issue (at least), making a fairly strong statement against in recent days, will he flip again? It’s like a high wire act. Will he, won’t he…

    As to the rebidding or renegotiating of all contracts, that’s a great idea. In a down economy, taxpayers and their representatives in the government should be able to bargain for lower prices in a range of services and products.
    Our Pat has already ruled out negotiating with AFSCME…after their first no way response he not only caved but groveled by signing a no-layoff agreement for all unionized state employees until June, 2011. Could he hold tough on renegotiating even a fraction of the $16 billion or so in contracts the state lets out every year. After all, a lot of those contractors are best friends with a lot of politicians, if not related to them. Like I said, it’s a high wire act.

  14. - DRB - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 1:54 pm:

    Pass a law which makes it illegal for a governmental body to pass a law which results in an unfunded mandate to another governmental body.

    Move as many state offices as feasible from Chicagoland to Springfield where the cost of operations is significantly lower.

    Sell all State owned aircraft and pass a law making it illegal to charter an aircraft using state funds. One fixed wing and one helicopter to be retained for law enforcement purposes only.

    Look into these agencies and determine what functions are critical if any and cut massively.

    Arts Council
    Illinois Community College Board
    Council on Developmental Disabilities
    Deaf & Hard of Hearing Commission
    Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes
    Board of Higher Education
    Dept of Human Rights
    Medical District Commission
    Pollution Control Board – rolled into EPA
    Student Assistance Commission

  15. - the Patriot - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 2:11 pm:

    As much snark as he took for the statement and even backed out of it, Brady had the only real solution, 10% accross the board. Each agency head gets to decide where to get their 10%. Let the people in charge run their agencies. As I posted earlier that depends on competent agency heads which right now were hand picked by Blago due to Quinn’s own dopey incompetence.

    Since it looks like the speaker will try to shove in a 7 month budget has anyone thought to ask how this will affect schools. Hiring of certified teachers is restricted by code and contracts. It will be almost impossible, if not actually impossible to hire teachers for half of a year without modification of both code and contracts. You would almost have to start the RIF procedure on the first day of school to have it done before the money runs out. Can these guys figure out that a 7 month budget is a one year moratorium on education.

  16. - Old Milwaukee - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 2:19 pm:

    It is a good list of cuts, but there is not anything new. They should do these and more.

  17. - Lake Watcher - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 2:26 pm:

    What are these foolios thinking? Madigan is not going to let them hijack his process. Just another chapter of “As the Mushrooms Turn”

  18. - Steve-O - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 2:38 pm:

    I think they have to go after retiree healthcare and make steeper cuts. It’s an absurdly unsustainable program that should’ve never been in-force. I think there are also much bigger savings to be had in Medicaid by tighting down the oversight on how the money is being spent/wasted.

  19. - steve schnorf - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 2:48 pm:

    Delirium reigns.

    There are not huge savings to be realized in Medicaid without either reducing rates, reducing scope of services, or raising eligibility requirement. You can’t provide the same services to the same people for the same rates and save money. Which of the choices (or combinations thereof) do people want to cut?

    If you get diverted into hunting for pennies and nickles, you burn time you should be using hunting for dollars. After you’ve found real dollars, then come back and look for the small savings. You harm your credibility by talking about addressing the problem by cutting the Arts Council or the DD Council (100% federally funded?). Cut a few billion from the big spending areas first.

    We used to occasionally do an exercise where we would list all agencies, boards, and commissions from top to bottom in GRF approp, and see how far up the list we had to go abolishing agencies to save a billion dollars. Try it, it’s educational.

  20. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 2:51 pm:

    === Rich, you appear convinced that neither Righter nor Rose would vote for a tax increase under any circumstances. I don’t think that is accurate. ===

    I agree with Schnorf, provided that plan increases funding for UIUC and Eastern Illinois University, their top spending priorities.

    I didn’t hear Chapin sounding off about the new U of I president being overpaid.

  21. - Pat Robertson - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 3:23 pm:

    A bunch of House amendments are being posted to SB 1211.

  22. - Tom Joad - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 4:24 pm:

    The Black Caucus projects that they want saved amount to how much? If they are saved by the Gov, are they on board for the larger cuts the Gov has to make? It seems that the cost for these projects will come out of overall funding for education. This may be worthwhile as these projects help a lot of poor people. Quinn should go along.

  23. - Linus - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 4:28 pm:

    = the only real solution, 10% accross the board =

    Well, that gets you about one-fifth of the way toward filling the gaping revenue hole, Patriot friend.

    Depending too much on cuts to fix this budget disaster means slashing far, far more than most people understand (or want to admit, if they’re seeking election). As in, you’d have to cut HALF of our General Funds budget.

    If legislators can approve it, borrowing will reduce those cuts a bit. And God knows their irresponsible refusal to deal with the giant backlog of bills takes a little pressure off cuts (and ironically puts the pressure back on cuts in other ways - because when programs are not cut by the state, but are never paid the $$ they’re promised, they “cut” themselves by closing their doors).

    We’re still left with the need to hack-away at far more than just “10%,” whether it’s across the board or otherwise.

  24. - Linus - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 4:30 pm:

    PS That’s why the only sane approach to a solution involves raising some taxes, in addition to having to subsume some cuts and approve some measure of further borrowing. This stool ain’t gonna balance on just one or two legs, but we keep pretending it can - and wondering why we keep falling on our butts.

  25. - Ronbo - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 4:56 pm:

    Interesting story on “THE WORST BILL EVER”

  26. - siriusly - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 5:06 pm:

    DRB - define critical?

    What those agencies do may not impact you, but certainly they impact big sectors of the state’s economy and large numbers of citizens.

    I think if you throw out some over simplified vomit like that you should at least be able to back it up. I understand the whole tea party / its our money thing, really I do.

    But at some point, we all ask government to do some things for us and regulating colleges and universities seems like a vital function to me. It’s a multi-billion dollar part of our state’s economy and those agencies have very small budgets.

  27. - Lakefront Liberal - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 5:16 pm:

    “We used to occasionally do an exercise where we would list all agencies, boards, and commissions from top to bottom in GRF approp, and see how far up the list we had to go abolishing agencies to save a billion dollars. Try it, it’s educational.”

    Does a list like this exist somewhere? If so I would love it if someone would post a link.

  28. - steve schnorf - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 5:26 pm:

    GOMB has it, and probably the budgeteers

  29. - RJW - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 5:27 pm:

    I know everyone is raving about the idea to rebid or renegotiate contracts but I can tell you from the inside that this would create absolute havoc. Renegotiating contracts is one thing - presumably work can continue. However, if you rebid a contract that service stops. And, under the new unnecessarily burdensome procurement rules that take effect July 1, the process of bidding a contract will take a long time. Sure, some contracts can legitimately be ended. But, a lot of contracts are necessary and include things like IT maintenance, software licensing, copiers, etc. It would be better if they specified the types of services they did not want to see contracted rather than require the rebid of every contract.

  30. - RJW - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 5:41 pm:

    If you put all of the agencies in order from highest General Funds appropriations to lowest General Funds appropriations, you would have to cut the entire General Funds appropriation for all of the agencies listed below to get to $1 billion. For many of these agencies that means their complete elimination.


  31. - RJW - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 5:42 pm:

    By the way, this list was derived by EXCLUDING retirement system payments and statutorily mandated transfers from GRF to other funds.

  32. - dupage progressive - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 6:58 pm:

    Probably an unpopular idea, but why didn’t Quinn come in & say he was eliminating many of the medicaid program increases that Rod implemented? Yes, it would be tough for some, but I think if there ever was a time to cut back, tighten the belt, it might be the time & people are suspicious of EVERYTHING Blago did.

  33. - Captain Illini - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 8:31 pm:

    RJW ~ you’re right about the cumbersome, some would call insane new procurment rules…yet another one-size-fits-all government knows best solution. When the procedure is really humming, it’ll slow down purchasing by months! Now that’s what government can do best…grind things to a halt!

  34. - Capitol Bill - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 8:49 pm:

    I don’t get it - SB3146 gives the state 700 million in year one by legalizing slots at the racetracks. This sure seems like a better idea than cutting education at all levels!! I don’t agree with the claim that senators are afraid to vote for this bill because of their jobs - since they have passed gaming at local bars!

  35. - Emily Booth - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 9:30 pm:

    @ dupage progressive, there was a lawsuit filed 2 or 3 years ago against the AllKids expansion and Blagoyevich lost. The decision didn’t apply to cases active at that time, only to new cases.

  36. - really? - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 9:32 pm:

    Quinn says no increases-did he realize the Senate would come up with this idea so he could look like the nice guy (a version of Good cop, bad cop?)

    Retirees should pay something. And why not raise premiums for the currently employed, too?

  37. - wordslinger - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 10:14 pm:

    I’m all for groups of legislators showing some animation and actually talking and proposing something.

    Rich, when you’re done reading the Trib editorials, turn out the lights because I think you’re the last one in the room.

  38. - Anonymous - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 10:45 pm:

    Man, I didn’t know you could save billions in Medicaid by just staring a few people down. Why didn’t I think of that back in the day, or Bob Mandeville in his day, or Joan Walters in her day, Lenny Schaeffer in his day, John Filan in his day, or Ginger Ostro in her day? And now that rascal David Vaught isn’t staring people down in his day. Or maybe it’s that the Trib couldn’t find its a– with both hands and a road map.

  39. - steve schnorf - Monday, May 24, 10 @ 10:46 pm:

    Mea Culpa. Anonymous 10:45 above is forgetful me.

  40. - Secret Square - Tuesday, May 25, 10 @ 8:58 am:

    Emily: actually the lawsuit in question was NOT against All Kids, which covers children, but against the expansion of FamilyCare, which covers parents/adult caretakers. (Yes, I know it’s confusing.) The difference is that the General Assembly authorized the All Kids program but they didn’t authorize expansion of FamilyCare.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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