* As I told subscribers this morning, the House Democrats are advancing a plan to convince the Republicans to support the pension borrowing bill, which requires a super-majority to pass. The Tribune has part of the story…
To entice Republican support to get the 71 votes needed for approval, they would tie pension borrowing to approving new bonds to pay for road and school construction.
Democrats still are not confident that Republicans would support the combined package, but noted that in the past, GOP members voted for additional highway bonding and school construction and might fear criticism for failing to bring jobs and pork projects back to their home districts.
One House Republican, Rep. Bill Black of Danville, said he’s willing to vote to borrow for pensions. “I don’t see how you can leave here and not borrow money,” said Black, a member of House GOP leadership who is not seeking re-election.
This might actually roll. We’ll see. The bill is here.
The only alternative on the table right now is another reason why some Republicans might possibly change their tune…
The emergency plan advanced Monday out of a key House committee would simply tell the governor he doesn’t have to make the pension payment until he has the money to do so.
That plan requires only a simple majority and, in theory, would be easier to pass. But it socks taxpayers with substantially higher interest charges. The borrowing plan would cost nearly $1 billion in interest over eight years. Skipping the pension payment incurs 8.5 percent interest and by the time the state makes up the shortfall, the interest cost is predicted at as much as $37 billion.
Even the Democrat sponsoring the deferred payment plan said it’s not a great option. “But it may turn out by the end of the week to be our only shot,” said Chicago state Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie.
She advised colleagues that there will be another vote this week on borrowing. “And I advise you to take me up on that offer.”
And Gov. Pat Quinn continues to push the borrowing plan…
QUINN: It’s the most feasible way to save taxpayers’ money. Bottom line is, any other proposal will cost taxpayers in Illinois millions and millions of dollars.
* Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) is not overly optimistic that budget cuts pushed by a group of fellow House Democrats will survive intact…
“Generally, when you’re talking about spending reductions and other things of that nature it runs into some challenges,” Nekritz said.
That’s an understatement. Here’s an example…
It’s unclear if these ideas from rank-and-file Democrats will get approved — or even debated —this week as lawmakers jockey to preserve their unique budget interests with state money tight.
State Rep. Bob Flider, D-Mount Zion, for example, opposes the having retirees pay for health insurance.
“It’s amazing we could ever agree on anything because we’re so diverse,” said Flider. “But I also feel people are reasonable. My feeling is, give people their shot at whatever proposal they’d like to put forward.”
…Adding… Rep. Feigenholtz’s proposal to cut Medicaid by $200 million just passed out of a House committee 13.2.
I gave you a brief rundown of that budget plan yesterday, but Illinois Issues has more numbers attached to theirs…
* A 5 percent reduction to the operating budgets of state agencies, saving about $300 million, and the General Assembly, saving about $2.5 million.
* $300 million in cuts to K-12 education.
* $100 million in cuts to higher education.
* $200 million in Medicaid cuts.
* Renegotiating contracts and putting some up for new bids, which legislators say could save up to $300 million.
* $4 million in cuts to local subsidies for assessors, supervisors and coroners.
* Cutting the reimbursement rate for car travel from to 50 cents a mile to 39 cents a mile, which legislators say could save $6 million.
* Eliminating salaries for members of part time boards and commissions, which would save an estimated $2.5 million.
* State Retirees would pay health care premiums according to a sliding scale based on their income, saving the state an estimated $100 million in fiscal year 2011.
Quinn appears supportive…
However, Quinn did seem to approve of $1.2 billion in cuts outlined by some Democratic lawmakers unhappy with how the budget process has played out.
“Just about all of the things they’ve talked about I’ve tried already,” Quinn said. “If there’s a renewed vision by members of the Legislature, both houses, majority vote, that they can get done, that’s fine by me.”
* In related news, Chuck Sweeny asked Bill Brady about his own budget plan…
“It’s hard for me to get too specific because I don’t have my people in place. The best information we have is often a two year old audit.
“Clearly the Medicaid system has to be put on managed care. You saw the mismanagement of All Kids, people should be have to be eligible.” The state audit of All Kids, a state health plan for children, said the program spent $70 million, but $55 million of that was spent on children who do not live in Illinois.
He also talked about K-12 public school cuts, saying they should be spread out among more education programs and grants “so that in the end we see a 2 to 3 percent cut.” Gov. Pat Quinn proposes a 17 percent cut in funding at the classroom level, Brady said.
“There’s no area of state government that’s not going to have to play a role” in cutting the budget, said Brady.
* And Sen. Dan Kotowski issued a press release this morning about his own budget idea, which was included with that House Democratic plan above…
Kotowski’s major contribution to the reform package is legislation calling for Results Budgeting (also known as Budgeting for Outcomes). Results Budgeting starts by defining spending priorities (such as job creation, education, human services, transportation, and public safety) and identifying how much revenue is actually available. It then requires the creation of performance-based measurements for these priorities and encourages state agencies to find creative ways to achieve these goals with limited resources. This process also includes built-in accountability and transparency by requiring the Governor to develop a state-wide reporting system comparing actual results with budgeted results. These measurements and results will then be posted on the State Comptroller’s web site for public viewing and evaluation.
Background here .