* 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.
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.
* 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