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Not a great batting average for Dem budget reformers

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

* So, how did the group of ten House Democrats who pushed for extensive budget cuts do yesterday? It was, at best, a mixed bag.

The House did pass a $200 million Medicaid cut pushed by the group, which House Majority Leader Barb Currie referred to as “the only real savings” the House approved yesterday.

But a proposal to make state retirees pay health insurance premiums failed. A measure to cut the budgets of constitutional officers fell short. The $400 million in education cuts (K-12 and higher ed) were overwhelmingly rejected in committee. Reducing state mileage reimbursements to 39 cents per mile from 50 cents failed. Eliminating state paid stipends for some local elected officials died.

There were a few other successes

A proposal, however, by Elgin state Rep. Keith Farnham advanced to the full House that would limit the travel allowance for lawmakers to 39 cents for the next year. It also would reduce lawmakers’ travel allowance for housing and meals - currently $139 a day - to $111. […]

Meanwhile, a proposal that could potentially save $300 million by canceling and rebidding state contracts for a total of more than $1.2 billion also cleared the committee.

“There’s a pattern of renewing contracts just year after year,” Jakobsson said. “We just renew them and don’t ask questions.”

Rep. Elaine Nekritz was one of the chief motivators behind the move to cut the budget. She tried to put the best face on the defeats to my intern Barton Lorimor. Have a look

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 10:26 am:

    Good try - keep going!
    We are not to judge successes based on the results from one day. It took decades to get into this hole, and it may take decades to get out of it. Keep going!

  2. - Ghost - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 10:31 am:

    There is no reason the budgets of the other constitutional officers could not be trimmed back or paired. Perhaps Quinn will AV these down at least 5%

  3. - wordslinger - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 10:37 am:

    It’s good to see others throw out proposals with real numbers behind them. The minority party should do so as well. How else do you differentiate yourself?

  4. - Fed up - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 10:37 am:

    Maybe we could get Blago/Quinn to layoff the flying on the taxpayer funded state plane. How many millions of taxpayer money because of Quinns sense of entitlement to free air travel. What a huge waste of tax money for these pols to fly on the taxpayer dime. Getting to and from your place of employment is your responsibility. Do we pay for the janitor to get a ride to work everyday.

  5. - mr anonymous - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 10:38 am:

    While I didn’t agree at all with some of the individual cuts that Rep. Nekritz and her cohorts were proposing, I very much appreciated the fact that several rank-and-file legislators were trying to take a pro-active, leadership role in moving budget negotiations along - rather than simply sit back and take it from the folks on high.

    We need more of that kind of spirit among lawmakers. Much like we used to see back in Ye Olden Days, pre-Cutback Amendment, when legislators would more routinely form independent blocs to influence policy.

  6. - Robert - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 10:42 am:

    in committee, did republicans generally vote with this group of 10 democrats who were proposing some specific cuts?

  7. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 10:43 am:

    Only a tiny handful, Robert, if at all. Some proposals didn’t even receive a “do pass” motion.

  8. - Ghost - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 10:46 am:

    Fed Up good point, we should run the state more like a large corpoation…and in a large corporation the head of the company never has a private jet if the janitor is walking to work. The most efficient way to operate the State is to have the govenor spend as much time out of his office traveling instead of getting work done.

    Good plan. After we pay the mileage reimbursement, that even the janitor gets for travel, we save maybe 80 dollars per trip over the cots of the plan. But instead of taking 40 min travel time, it take 4 hrs. meanwhile we pay quinn his salry for those 4 hrs of tavel which is more then the 80 dollars savings by a lot, but are not etting work from him.

  9. - dupage dan - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 10:48 am:

    I know how the dems can differentiate themselves. Cut spending. Solve the state financial crisis. Then take all the credit. How sweet that would be, eh?

  10. - wizard - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 10:57 am:

    cut housing and meal allowance to $98/day. that’s what state workers get while travelling to do their jobs. makes them back away from the bar a little sooner.

  11. - wizard - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 11:00 am:

    makes the lawmakers back away from the bar a little sooner.

  12. - Loop Lady - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 11:03 am:

    I see no reason at all for per diems…don’t these people earn a full time salary for a part time gig? It is simply a perk we cannot afford!

  13. - The KQ - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 12:52 pm:

    “There’s a pattern of renewing contracts just year after year,” Jakobsson said. “We just renew them and don’t ask questions.”

    I take issue with this statement. While I know there are some contracts that do get renewed without much assessment (the recent lease contracts for example) I know the CMS procurement office has a system for contract renewals that compares Illinois pricing with contracts in other States. This research is done prior to a renewal being executed. There have been many cases where it was discovered that the same product being provided by the same vendor in a nearby State was being bought for a cheaper price.

  14. - David Ormsby - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 2:09 pm:

    Obsessed with venting on nickels and dimes.

  15. - jake - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 3:07 pm:

    The few specific successes are all to the good, although they were only a small start to climbing out of the hole. More important was the precedent of a group of grass-roots legislators taking this type of initiative, and the Speaker actually encouraging them, after they voted against the budget that he wanted passed in the first place. This was a test of the Speaker’s leadership. If he had reacted as Cross did on the pension issue, the outcome would not have been good. Perhaps the most important specific result was that if this group had not done what it did, the pension bonds would not have passed. It was the example and influence of this group taking this initiative that brought Biggins and Black to the point where they would break ranks with the Republican leadership on the pension bond issue.

  16. - fed up - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 6:57 pm:

    Ghost you idiot the janitor does not get milage to go to from work. The gov. choses like his buddy Blago to soak the taxpayers of Ill with his travel expenses. Face it Quinn lied (as he often does) when he said he would live in the Gov mansion. Quinn cant even tell the truth about where he lives.

  17. - Anonymous - Thursday, May 27, 10 @ 11:09 am:

    Hard to believe over 90% of state workers don’t pay a dime for health care…no wonder we’re broke.

    Whose been in power long enough to have supported such reckless and unsustainable spending?

    While it should have been addressed years ago, was this just early notice to retirees that health care charges are coming after the election?

  18. - Anonymous - Thursday, May 27, 10 @ 11:16 am:

    BTW, why do we still need regional superintendents when modern technology eliminates the need and cost for middle men to relay info between the state and local schools?

    What exactly do they do to improve education? Lobby the state for more taxes using our taxes?

    If we need backups for local superintendents, why not create a reserve superintendent list that only gets paid when they actually work at a school?

    As reservists (instead of employees) they’d have more time and credibility when lobbying the state…not to mention save a few million.

  19. - Anonymous - Thursday, May 27, 10 @ 11:18 am:

    Why does our state want to remain addicted to foreign oil by subsidizing it with our taxes?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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