* The borrowing bill got 19 votes in the Senate last night. The Democrats have 35 seats. So it wasn’t just the Republicans who defeated the proposal…
Senate Republicans defeated a Democratic bid to borrow nearly $1.5 billion over seven years to pay down part of the state’s crushing backlog of unpaid bills. The measure failed by a 19-23 vote with 36 votes needed for Senate passage.
“It’s always a bad idea to borrow money when you don’t know how to repay it,” said Sen. Dale Righter (R-Charleston), who voted against the measure.
The one-sided loss involving the first piece of a four-bill, $6.1 billion borrowing proposal represented another significant defeat for Quinn: It effectively killed his hopes of righting the state’s bleak budget situation and persuading lawmakers this spring to authorize borrowing to pay unpaid state bills.
In February, the governor called for $8.75 billion in borrowing to deal with unpaid bills but had swung his support to the $6.1 billion borrowing plan pushed by Sen. John Sullivan (D-Rushville).
* The hope among Democrats is the governor will finally move away from this idea. He actually seems to be taking the hint…
Stretching out the payment cycle to Medicaid providers into next year will allow Gov. Pat Quinn’s office to “manage” hundreds of millions of dollars, said state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, adding that the state pays $28 million a day for Medicaid services. […]
An Illinois Senate panel on Sunday approved a measure that would extend the amount of time the state has to pay its bills from three months to six months. That period, know as lapse-period spending, covers bills that arrive in Springfield after the end of the budget year, which ends in June. Illinois traditionally would pay those bills by September, but lawmakers want to give the governor until December to send the checks. […]
Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said if lawmakers do not give the governor more time, they have to either give him more money or tell businesses and hospitals to sue the state.
“This is not new spending,” said Cullerton. “This is giving (the governor) more time to pay the bills.”
Quinn’s budget spokeswoman, Kelly Kraft, said the governor would prefer that lawmakers “restructure” the state’s backlog of bills by borrowing $6 billion, but the Quinn administration will take what it can get.
“An extension is something we need to manage the state’s cash flow” said Kraft.
* Here’s another plan being floated…
One idea that’s been tossed around is to limit local governments to the same share of revenue that they received this year. That would mean no additional money if the economy rebounds and the state collects more than expected from income and sales taxes.
* And, as I told you yesterday, this bill may not be going anywhere…
State government retirees – many of whom don’t pay premiums for health insurance – would have to pick up roughly half the cost under a bill approved by the Senate Executive Committee Sunday.
The prospects for the bill, Senate Bill 175, are uncertain, however. Two senators on the committee said they voted for it only in order to give the full Senate a chance to consider the measure. They did not pledge to vote for it when it is debated by the full chamber.
The bill would affect thousands of retired state employees, most of whom pay no premiums for their state health insurance, according to a consultant hired by the state. Mercer Health and Benefits said that is a rarity both among state governments and large private employers.
Illinois reduces health insurance premiums by 5 percent for each year a retiree worked for the state, so a retiree with 20 years on the job pays nothing in premiums.
* VIDEO: Rep. Feigenholtz on state spending plan
* Plan to borrow for old bills fails
* Senate Republicans block $6 billion in Illinois borrowing