* This decision won’t be loved by anybody who relies on a special state fund…
The Illinois Supreme Court may have opened the door for Gov. Pat Quinn and state lawmakers to grab hundreds of millions of dollars for the next state budget.
In a 6-to-1 decision Thursday, the high court upheld a 2006 Sangamon County Circuit Court ruling that backed the governor and Legislature’s ability to take money from hundreds of special state funds, a practice commonly referred to as sweeping.
Motorcycle riders sued former Gov. Rod Blagojevich after he ordered that $296,000 be taken from the Cycle Riders Safety Training Fund, or CRSTF. A portion of the fee for an Illinois motorcycle license went into the CRSTF, which the motorcycle education and advocacy group A Brotherhood Aimed Towards Education, or ABATE, argued, was only to be spent on motorcycle safety education. The governor that year used the $296,000 to pay general state bills.
“Clearly, the fee charged by the state for motorcycle registration and licensing is state revenue, and therefore the portion of this state revenue which the General Assembly has allocated to the CRSTF is also public money,” wrote Justice Anne Burke in the majority opinion.
Burke rejected the ABATE lawyers’ argument that the special fund was tantamount to a special trust fund.
The full opinion is here.
* Quinn, however, has no plans to sweep…
Quinn’s budget spokeswoman, Kelly Kraft, said there are no plans to sweep any special funds for the next state budget.
“Gov. Quinn worked to end the practice of fund sweeps, and sweeps are not a possibility for FY13,” said Kraft.
But the governor has come to rely on interfund borrowing. Quinn borrowed $500 million from special state funds in the current state spending plan. That money is supposed to be paid back at the end of the fiscal year.
* Considering the growing war between the governor and the General Assembly, I wouldn’t be too sure that Gov. Pat Quinn will necessarily follow precedent…
A legislative commission’s vote against closing four state facilities that treat people who are mentally and developmentally disabled isn’t enough to prevent Gov. Pat Quinn from shuttering the facilities.
The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, or COGFA, voted to keep the following facilities open: Singer Mental Health Center in Rockford; Chester Mental Health Center in Chester; Mabley Developmental Center in Dixon; and Illinois Youth Center in Murphysboro.
Quinn announced he was targeting seven down-state facilities for closure, because the General Assembly’s $33.2 billion budget didn’t give him enough money to keep the doors open and their 1,938 employees working. Quinn introduced a proposed budget of about $36 billion.
“Their recommendation, unfortunately, doesn’t change the reality of the budget we’re tasked with managing,” Brooke Anderson, a spokeswoman for Quinn, said. […]
COGFA’s vote is only advisory, meaning that Quinn still can close the centers.
“However, no administration has ever moved contrary to how the commission has recommended,” state Sen. Jeffery Schoenberg, D-Evanston, and co-chairman of COGFA, said. “He could if he wanted to, but it would set a precedent.”
If the GA doesn’t find the money to keep those facilities open, then Quinn may have to follow through. So far, nobody has come up with alternatives. The only major legislative proposals we’ve seen from the Republicans (whose facilities were targeted) have been about cutting taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars, not finding ways to move money around or generate new revenue.
* And, finally, the Tribune editorial board really needs to get itself a clue…
No, Gov. Quinn, you may not borrow more money, no matter how often you call it “restructuring” or any other euphemism. Borrowing is borrowing. It’s a big reason why Illinois is drowning.
First, the state is not “drowning.” That’s just the Tribune’s hyperbolic goofiness showing through. Secondly, the state is already borrowing from struggling small businesses, not for profit social service providers, hospitals, doctors, pharmacists, road builders, etc. by not paying our bills on time. The state has mostly dealt with its structural debt through cuts and tax hikes. The problem is the old bills, which will take years to pay down, one way or the other.
Either Illinois sells bonds or it continues making late payments to its vendors for years and does major budget cuts along the way. Selling bonds is a lot less painful to all involved. In other words, the difference is we can shaft our own businesses and not for profits by borrowing from them, or sell bonds on the market. So, of course, Mother Tribune demands we continue shafting the little guys, whack the budget and slash pensions and healthcare.