* After searching around for an excuse to justify doubling non-union furlough days, the Quinn administration finally decided to blame it on Congress’ inability to pass a bill to help out the states, which would’ve blown a $750 million hole in the state budget…
“The 24 furlough days [ordered earlier this month] is aimed at closing that $750 million gap,” [budget spokesperson Kelly Kraft] said.
But now that the US Senate has passed the bill and the House is heading back to DC tomorrow to vote on it, the excuse may be gone. Quinn’s office isn’t saying yet what the governor will do…
Gov. Pat Quinn’s order requiring 2,700 non-union state workers to take 24 unpaid days off still stands, despite a major step Congress took this week to prevent much of the federal funding shortfall cited by Quinn when the furloughs were announced. […]
But Quinn spokeswoman Ashley Cross wouldn’t speculate Friday on whether continuation of the federal funding will affect the governor’s furlough order.
She said Quinn wants to see the outcome of the legislation in Washington, D.C., before making any decisions or announcements.
“It would be a bit premature,” she said, though she added that Quinn officials were “excited” by this week’s vote.
* Your taxes aren’t going up - yet - but state budget cuts mean some people are paying more. For instance…
Illinois families already shell out more money for K-12 textbooks than parents anywhere else in the country, but now they face even steeper bills after the state wiped out funding for schoolbooks.
With the state in fiscal crisis, the Illinois State Board of Education for the second year has eliminated more than $40 million in funding used to defray textbook costs — or about $40 per student.
Now, districts are passing along that cost to families in a variety of ways: Some schools that rent books to students are hiking the fees. Those that require students to buy books will be passing out fewer free ones. And even private schools are taking a hit because the money also was available to them, prompting Illinois’ Catholic bishops to write a letter to Gov. Pat Quinn calling the cuts “poorly reasoned and deeply flawed.”
While books are free in the vast majority of public school districts across the country, bills of $300 or more per student are not uncommon in some Chicago-area schools. Instead of using tax dollars or general state aid money, districts have traditionally looked to parents to pay for books.
* Kudos to the QC Times for running this gem of an editorial…
Illinois’ new regulatory fees include an astounding 1,525 percent increase for state ski lift inspections. Last year, it was $60. This year, it will be $975.
The inspection requirements didn’t change much. Only the price.
Another new state fee increased tattoo shop regulation from $100 annually to $500. The state of Illinois enacted the fee, but didn’t add any inspectors. Instead, they are contracting with counties and cities to keep on doing the same inspections they’ve always done. The key difference? The state gets a $400 cut.
Scott Hinton, Moline’s city engineer, affirmed that tattoo shop owners can expect the same inspection — “we’re not going to do anything different,” he said — at five times the price.
I did a quick Google search and found just one article about the tattoo fee hike, and it was in the QC Times. The paper also wrote about the ski lift increase, and WQAD TV stumped Gov. Quinn when he came to town the other day…
We also asked about Snowstar’s ski lift inspection fees possibly rising 1,500 percent.
“I don’t know all of the details of that. I’d be glad to look into it. Where’s the ski lift located”, Quinn asked.
“Andalusia”, I answered.
He responded, “Well I think we ought to look into it. I don’t know all of the details but I think it’s important to sometimes
you have tough times like we do now but certainly these fees, you know, need regular review. I’d be glad to look at it.”
* And while the state drowns in red ink, the Gaming Board is months away from getting the video game system up and running…
So far, 14 companies have applied for operator licenses and 31 for manufacturer/distributor/supplier licenses, said Gaming Board spokesman Gene O’Shea. Applications are not yet available for establishments that want to have the machines.
Before anything can get operating, though, the state needs to install a central communications system that will link every terminal in use. It’s similar to the way lottery terminals are linked statewide. The Gaming Board selected Scientific Games of New York — one of the leaders in developing gaming systems worldwide — to install the $62 million system.
However, the board and the company are still negotiating some contract details, O’Shea said, so the contract has not been finalized. Until it is, work cannot start on the system, and until the system is installed, video gaming won’t be a reality.
O’Shea said estimates are it will take four to six months to install the central communications system once the contract is finalized.
Yes, I know that the video game revenues are for capital projects. But some of that capital money is supposed to be coming out of GRF. And there ain’t no money in that fund.
* Related and a roundup…
* Governor restores probation funds
* Pantagraph: Even with cuts, Illinois budget in awful shape
* More budget cuts for education
* State proposal on part-time superintendents would affect Thomasboro
* State looking into ex-Bellwood administrator’s $252,689-a-year pension
* Fair Marches On Despite State Budget Problems
* Fairgrounds Main Gate hits the century mark
* MTV to hold reality show auditions at state fair
* SJ-R: Time is not right for citizen initiative
* Frequent filers weigh in on FOIA
* Couple speaks up after son dies in state’s care