*** UPDATE 1 *** Gov. Pat Quinn is once again using the “subject to appropriations” clause to justify breaking yet another agreement with AFSCME. Quinn told reporters today that he will, indeed, propose to slash state jobs and close facilities despite his agreement last year with the union and said he has no choice because there is no appropriated money. From his remarks…
“Clearly, the budget of the General Assembly that they appropriated is going to require significant changes… All agreements are subject to the clause in Illinois law that says ’subject to appropriations’… I have to abide by the will of the General Assembly that passed a budget that requires reductions and, therefore,, we’ll have to carry those reductions out. It will be done in an orderly way according to law… The bottom line is the money isn’t there to pay for a full fiscal year unless reductions are made.”
Quinn also said he’d be open to proposals to redo the budget using increased revenues.
* Raw audio…
*** UPDATE 2 *** Sen. Bill Brady wonders if the cuts will be focused on Republican areas…
“I assume it will be a political document. It will be interesting to see how many of these facilities are in areas where Democrats are running. He’s turning into a blowhard that has no credibility in the General Assembly.”
On a personal note, thanks to Brady for pointing out that the Tribune did not break this story today. Raw audio is here.
*** UPDATE 3 *** Via press release, AFSCME claims there’s a “crisis of will”…
“AFSCME has not received any notification from the Quinn Administration regarding facility closures or employee layoffs. However, we take very seriously the persistent and widespread rumors that the governor is giving serious consideration to announcing such closures and layoffs this week.
“This course of action would be in direct violation of negotiated agreements with our union. Moreover, it would have a dire impact on the maintenance of public safety and the delivery of services of vital importance to the people of Illinois.
“Illinois state government is already an extremely lean operation. Staffing levels have been cut to the bone over the past decade—and Illinois now has the lowest per capita number of employees of any state in the country. Nearly every state agency is struggling to meet its mandates. Prisons are understaffed and severely overcrowded, operating at almost 150 percent of inmate capacity. Human service caseloads have soared past any reasonable standard. Veterans homes have long waiting lists for care.
“Closures and layoffs at such a time will plunge state government into chaos.
“The Governor is apparently concerned that there is not sufficient appropriations authority to maintain services at their current level until the fiscal year ends next June. We agree that a supplemental appropriation is needed. But there is certainly not a funding crisis at this point in time. There is merely a crisis of will.
“Our state urgently needs leadership. Rather than disrupt vital services and add to Illinois’ already alarmingly high unemployment rate, the governor should work with the General Assembly to forestall service cuts and layoffs. The necessary funding is available if the legislature takes action when it returns for the veto session. The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability reports that revenue is coming in this year at higher than projected levels.
“We call on the governor and the legislative leaders to work together for the good of our state. This is not a time for partisanship or finger-pointing. It’s a time to work together to ensure that essential services to maintain public safety and meet human needs can continue to be provided. AFSCME stands ready to be part of that effort.”
*** UPDATE 4 *** If the governor thought he would stampede state legislators, he may have another thing coming, at least in the House…
The rumor that Gov. Pat Quinn will issue layoff notices this week to thousands of state workers and possibly close some state facilities was met with a quick note of reassurance from state Rep. Lisa Dugan, D-Bradley.
“We understood that cuts would have to be made,” she said today. “We approved a budget that was at least $2 billion less than he asked for.'’
Then again, we’ll see what she says if Kankakee’s state hospital is put on the closure list.
*** UPDATE 5 *** From the AP…
Quinn blamed the cuts on the General Assembly, saying lawmakers hadn’t appropriated enough money to cover Illinois’ expenses for the rest of the fiscal year. But Quinn says he’s willing to work with lawmakers to avoid the cuts, and he says talks will happen this week.
Neither the House Democrats nor the Senate Democrats have any meetings scheduled with the governor this week. However, I listened to the raw audio file twice and I think the governor said that he’d be rolling out his proposal this week, not that he’d be talking to legislators. Listen for yourself…
I asked the governor’s office for a comment and got this…
[ *** End Of Updates *** ]
The Governor believes in the democratic process and will continue to work with and listen to legislators in regards to implementation of an incomplete budget. If legislators want to make adjustments to the budget they passed in May, the Governor, as always, is willing to listen.
* I told subscribers about this late Friday morning…
Gov. Pat Quinn plans to issue layoff notices to thousands of state workers this week as he deals with a budget shortfall he pegs in the hundreds of millions of dollars, a state government source with knowledge of the situation told the Tribune.
The governor also intends to announce the closing of several state facilities, including a prison, juvenile detention center and homes for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled, sources confirmed. Without action, Quinn’s budget office says, several agencies would run out of money by the spring.
Quinn is responding to the Democratic-controlled Legislature’s decision at the end of May to dictate this year’s budget with little input from his office. The Democratic governor maintains that lawmakers didn’t provide enough money to keep the state operating for a full year. Quinn, who asked for $2.2 billion more, already has made partial vetoes to the budget and blocked raises for thousands of state workers, a decision that’s being challenged in court by the state’s largest government employee union. The union also is expected to fight the pink slips, citing a no-layoff agreement it struck with Quinn last year. […]
Unless lawmakers step in, the prisons system won’t have enough money to pay guards, let alone feed and clothe inmates or provide proper drug addiction counseling and medical care, according to Quinn budget office estimates. There also won’t be enough cash to cover checks for workers who care for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled, or keep the doors open for a full year at state-operated residential facilities and psychiatric hospitals. The state also is struggling to cover the cost of the food stamp program and cover travel costs for workers investigating allegations of abuse or neglect. […]
Some lawmakers warn that Quinn will find little relief as state coffers remain bare despite the major income tax increase. Republican Sen. Matt Murphy, of Palatine, says the state already spends too much and needs to cut further. He said moves like shutting facilities need to happen, but that Quinn should have known that before making a campaign pledge to keep them all open.
During the campaign last year, Quinn forged an agreement with AFSCME that precluded layoffs and facility closures in return for the union to come up with budget-balancing ideas. Word is that Quinn will say that the union hasn’t held up its end of the agreement, a claim the union flatly denies.
* In a related story…
The General Assembly has been forced to deal with less income from taxpayers and, as a result, has trimmed the number of public employees. But those still working in public-sector jobs are earning more, according to an Illinois Statehouse News, or ISN, analysis.
Between 2009 and 2010, lawmakers increased the paychecks of those still on the job with the state by $83 million, the ISN analysis found.
Overall, the $3.93 billion in payroll accounted for about 12 percent of the state’s operating budget for fiscal 2010, and was 2 percent higher than in fiscal 2009. Employee pay usually hovers around 10 percent of the state’s operating budget. But that does not include public university employees, whose salary data were not included in the analysis.
“That’s a problem when your revenues are not increasing, (and) we’ve got all this past-due debt that is owed by the state. There needs to be an effort to contain costs,” Tom Johnson, president of the Taxpayers Federation of Illinois, a government watchdog organization, and chairman of Gov. Pat Quinn’s Taxpayer Action Board.