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Dems push for GOP borrowing votes

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

* 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 .

- Posted by Rich Miller        

20 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Tuesday, May 25, 10 @ 10:10 am:

    –“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.”–

    The guy’s got chutzpah. Eighteen years in the GA, second time around running for gov. worst fiscal crisis ever, and he claims not to have clue on how to put together a budget.

    This ranks up there with his love of term limits and failure to see a conflict of interest on the Champaign legislation.

    He might get away with it. His spot is on TV a lot in Chicago, and as far as I’ve seen, Quinn has not answered it.


  2. - Ghost - Tuesday, May 25, 10 @ 10:12 am:

    Rich can the Dems pass a bare bones budget with kots of cuts now; and then later run supplemental approp bills to restore some of the cuts? Thus they could restore spending if/when money was avaible, but put in steeper cuts now.


  3. - jonbtuba - Tuesday, May 25, 10 @ 10:19 am:

    What the heck is wrong with Bill Brady? I can’t take a candidate for governor, or Illinois politician for that matter, seriously if they have no specific budget plan and offer excuses like “I’m not coordinated yet”. A REAL leader would be offering constructive solutions as opposed to mere political posturing.


  4. - Small Town Liberal - Tuesday, May 25, 10 @ 10:26 am:

    So Bill Brady is just going to wing it if he gets elected? I was unaware the Governor’s office was meant to be an improv group.


  5. - Indeedy - Tuesday, May 25, 10 @ 10:30 am:

    The idea of performance budgeting is ambitious and potentially a good idea assuming inputs and outputs are clearly and equitably defined but I’m curious how the Senator plans to move the idea forward (1) at the 11th hour and, (2) in an environment that is already resistant to scaled-back versions of the concept, like performance-related pay for teachers.


  6. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, May 25, 10 @ 10:30 am:

    “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.”

    That is the right answer to give. First off, voters recognize it as true. If Quinn, who has been a Lt. Governor and Governor for the past eight years is unable to lead, then why would you expect someone who hasn’t been a state leader to lead until after he is sees first hand the damages done.

    Politically, this is the best answer, and the truest. To those who wish to have him give details, they are wishing this in order to get him involved in a fight Brady cannot win. Brady isn’t the governor. He doesn’t have all the facts.

    How many times have we seen a president or a governor, or a mayor, announce that their inherited budget is far worse than they knew as a candidate? So, there is nothing wrong for a candidate to acknowledge that they are not privvy to all the details, in order to give details.


  7. - Small Town Liberal - Tuesday, May 25, 10 @ 10:33 am:

    - who hasn’t been a state leader -

    Please, he’s been a legislator for years, are you saying he hasn’t had access to the same numbers as the Governor’s office? What a joke.


  8. - cassandra - Tuesday, May 25, 10 @ 10:36 am:

    Well, Quinn appears to have been winging it, if you are following all the flippity-flopping since he started as guv.

    At the end of the flippity-flopping day, Quinn’s budget solution is to use an income tax increase to transfer more wealth from Illinois’ middle class to entitlement and poverty programs and to the state bureaucracy, with its out of control pension benefits and ever-increasing salaries and Democratic patronage.

    It wouldn’t be that difficult to craft a message pointing this out (after all, most Illinois workers don’t even have pensions or even regular and plump raises these days) and presenting some alternatives. But Brady seems to be as surprised as anybody in the Republican party that he is the candidate. Hence the weak-no, nonexistent–fiscal message.


  9. - wordslinger - Tuesday, May 25, 10 @ 10:37 am:

    –Brady isn’t the governor. He doesn’t have all the facts.–

    LOL. Only because he doesn’t want them. They are there for all to see, in big books with lots of numbers.

    Yeah, politicians always say it was worse than they thought. That’s just blaming the guy before them. It has no basis in reality.


  10. - Leave a light on George - Tuesday, May 25, 10 @ 10:41 am:

    ” I was unaware the Governor’s office was meant to be an improv group.”

    Have you not been paying attention to Gov. Q’s tenure?


  11. - Ghost - Tuesday, May 25, 10 @ 10:42 am:

    What word said…

    He is a member of the general assembly who votes on spending, but he cant be bothered to have his people do some research to get him the numbers?

    if he has no good information how can he vote against Quinns plan? I was hoping for a gov who would be pro-active and have a strategy to get us ou of trouble, but brady wants to play ostrich hiding from whats there and cliaming it can not be seen.

    I onder if he ran his business this way… no wonder it was failing before the economy went bad.


  12. - He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint - Tuesday, May 25, 10 @ 10:45 am:

    I don’t see any Legislative proposal to cut back on their Per Diem, pension or pay. I guess they are proposing cuts for everyone but themselves.


  13. - dupage dan - Tuesday, May 25, 10 @ 10:47 am:

    For several reasons I am concerned about the pension mess. Of course, as taxpayers we should all be concerned because of the looming increased costs of the pensions. I also have a personal concern since I am a state employee. That money has to be borrowed to make this payment can be, in part, attributed to RB’s legacy. It can’t be laid completely at his doorstep, however.

    My understanding is that if money is not borrowed to make the payment there will be a substantial penalty that will only increase costs to a system already overburdened. If tax revenues do not recover soon this problem will only get worse. I can’t see any legislator voting for a tax increase to cover the increased costs - any who do would likely face a severe backlash from their constituents (many of whom have seen significant losses in their own retirment funds, if they even have one). Although I will benefit from this pension (I did not seek the job for the bene’s) I believe that pensions are archaic (including Social Security) and unsustainable. We should join the rest of the working world and take our lumps when the market is down and reap the benefits when the market is up.


  14. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, May 25, 10 @ 10:50 am:

    ===I don’t see any Legislative proposal to cut back on their Per Diem, pension or pay.===

    Rep. Franks has an amendment. It may be on a different bill.


  15. - Reality is - Tuesday, May 25, 10 @ 10:57 am:

    Why pick on Brady for not having a plan ? It doesnt appear anyone has a plan.


  16. - How Ironic - Tuesday, May 25, 10 @ 11:04 am:

    @Ghost-
    —–”Rich can the Dems pass a bare bones budget with kots of cuts now; and then later run supplemental approp bills to restore some of the cuts? Thus they could restore spending if/when money was avaible, but put in steeper cuts now. ”

    Ghost, the problem with that type of budget is that it forces the agency to take a HUGE gamble on allocation of resources.

    For example. Lets say the ‘normal’ buget is $100.
    The GA passes a ‘bare bones’ budget at $75 with the ‘promise’ that they will come back and supply more funding later.

    Does the agency allocate that $25 cut over 6mos or 12 mos?

    If they do it over 12 mos, they may short funding for programs that really need the funding (especially considering they might be made ‘whole’ later).

    OR do they fund the budget at 6most. Essentially fund all activities for 100% for 6mos. BUT after 6mos, if the GA comes back and says “Sorry…no more cash”, NOW the agency is in effect forced into a 50% CUT to funding for the last 6mos of the budget. (because they didn’t allocate the cut over 12 mos).

    That is a very dangerous and risky way to budget. And it’s not honest or a good way to manage programs that rely on stable funding.


  17. - cassandra - Tuesday, May 25, 10 @ 11:06 am:

    The whole idea of challenging an incumbent is to
    persuade voters that you have an alternative plan to fix whatever the problem is. If you don’t have a plan, why should the voter bother switching horses. Brady has time, but not endless time. In the one media appearance I saw, on Chi Tonight, he was weak and ingratiating when I imagine most voters are looking for clear and decisive.


  18. - Ghost - Tuesday, May 25, 10 @ 11:17 am:

    HI

    yes but it deals with the political clmate of kicking the budget to past the election when realistic discussion of a tax increase can be pursued while showing voters where the pian will be.

    IMHO I would cut it now and make the agencies budget what they get at 12 months. Voters need to see/feel the cuts.


  19. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, May 25, 10 @ 12:39 pm:

    Thats politics for ya!
    When you are the incumbant and everything is going south, including your poll numbers, you have nothing else going for you except to demand the level of competence you are not demonstrating - from your political opponent. If he falls for your demands, then you have new amunition to help defeat him. If he claims he can’t give details because he isn’t in charge, then you have nothing but spin.

    Brady’s answer isn’t what some people want to hear, so they claim to take the high road and demand answers, or accuse him of being simple minded, incompetent or not good enough for the job. They do this, because that’s all they got. As long as Brady keeps singing the same song, they have nothing but that.

    Go ahead - keep bashing. But the issue is Quinn. Not Brady. Quinn is the governor seeking election. He is the one with the record as governor that voters are sour on. Quinn could win this if he acted on Day One, paid his dues with bad news, and demonstrated his leadership. He failed. Quinn’s got nothin’ here.

    I didn’t vote for either guy, and will not in November. That said, Brady’s non-answers are better than real ones for him politically.


  20. - Amalia - Tuesday, May 25, 10 @ 3:59 pm:

    wonder if Kotowski did results budgeting in any of his past not for profit jobs?


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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