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More on the House’s budget

Thursday, May 31, 2012

* As mentioned below, the House Republicans pulled out of budget negotiations after Speaker Madigan refused to bend on pension reform. That caused a chain reaction. Some GOP projects were cut because Republicans weren’t voting for the budget, but state facilities in Republican districts that had been targeted for closure were left intact. The Democrats also added $50 million to the General State Aid budget for schools. Republicans were furious

House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, also accused Democrats of adding money to the budget after they learned that Republicans would not support it.

“There’s $50 million more than when we were working with you,” Cross said. “Fifty million is a lot of money. You can’t control yourselves. That’s what happens when you are left to your own devices.”

Democrats said they added $50 million to general state aid to schools. With the addition, general state aid would drop by $161 million under the House budget, instead of $211 million. […]

Rep. Fred Crespo, D-Hoffman Estates, said Republicans told him they would not support a budget that did not keep all state facilities open.

“We found the money. Isn’t that something?” Crespo said.

Although many of those facilities are in Republican districts, they still voted against the budget.

The House Democrats say that even with the school money, which came from refinancing state debt, the budget will still be $4 million below the spending cap the chamber agreed to earlier this year.

* More

Republicans were also unhappy about some changes made to the human services budget. Funding for transportation for mental health patients was taken out, and instead, more money went to the Department of Children and Family Services. Money for drug addiction prevention and youth in transition programs also fell under the Democratic budget ax.

“It was a good budget before you started whacking away at it,” said Rep. Rosemary Mulligan, a Republican from Des Plaines. “Now you’ve cut things that everyone at the table agreed to, Democrat and Republican.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Freeman - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 12:00 pm:

    === Money for drug addiction prevention and youth in transition programs also fell under the Democratic budget ax ===

    === research was cut in many areas to direct more money to services ===

    Not sure how well those two correlate with each other. That may not be contradictory, since we could have increased funding to other serices, but that just jumps out because of the close proximity of these sentences in the story.

    It talks about cutting services, then a few sentences later says we’re cutting research to increase services.

    Perhaps that stands out to me because of Rich’s point a few days ago: even the “good” options aren’t any good.

  2. - Robert - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 12:09 pm:

    If the republicans are now refusing to vote for the budget, the democrats might as well take away any spending they gave republicans back when republicans were participating in compromising.

  3. - Freeman - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 12:39 pm:

    At that point, Robert, then the Republicans “might as well” put the entire burden on Democrats.

    Let them push through all the painful budget cuts, pension cuts, etc. entirely by themselves. Just like the tax increase.

    Sit on their hands for the next 24 hours, and either gain a larger say in overtime or run on that for the next few years.

    And every time the Democrats claim, “We’re the ones who did something while the Republicans sat around?” The Republicans remind voters, “Exactly. Democrats are the ones who raised your taxes. Then they cut your Medicaid, cut your pension, cut your school funding, etc.”

    And if the Democrats sit on their hands and don’t push through those painful changes and cuts? Then Republicans would remind voters, “Democrats have been creating these problems during a decade of power (no mention of the boom before the bust or any complicity, of course) and still nothing changes. Even now, 3 years after Rod Blagojevich, nothing changes. Democrats will not do something about these issues while your quality of life deteriorates.”

    Now, we may debate those charges, but that is what they will allege.

    Meanwhile, everyone gets their little power trip and plays politics on both sides of the aisle while people continue paying higher taxes and receiving fewer services while trying to survive and provide.

    This is ugly no matter what. I sincerely hope the last 24 hours do not witness a complete breakdown of detente, especially after the great work everyone did last year and most of this year in the budgeting process. That’s not good for anyone here.

  4. - reformer - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 12:49 pm:

    How can Republicans have the gall to complain that what they agreed to has been changed, since the GOP didn’t keep their word to support the agreed budget? Once they broke their word, all bets are off. They’re lucky the facilities didn’t get whacked.

  5. - reformer - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 12:53 pm:

    Democrats made concessions to Republicans in crafting the budget with the understanding that both parties would support the consensus budget.

    Even though Republicans got what they wanted in the budget, they still withdrew their support.

    Then they whined when Democrats withdrew some of the concessions at the last minute in response to the GOP boycott. And they feigned moral outrage.

  6. - TCB - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 2:05 pm:

    The Democrats should ask Quinn to veto lines which keep GOP facilities open……that’d be some sweet justice for the Repubs who pulled the switch-a-roo

  7. - Judgment Day - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 2:13 pm:

    Here’s reality:

    We can argue back and forth over who did what to who. Meaningless.

    Here’s what counts. If the State of IL gets a full two step downgrade in our credit rating, we’re pretty much screwed. A full 2 step hit takes us down below ‘investment grade’.

    That means for many institutions, our (State of IL) bonded indebtedness can no longer be acquired and used as collateral or as part of their non-speculative investment holdings. We’re effectively not part of that market. And guess what, that’s most of the bond market.

    The credit ratings agencies are expecting the State of IL to make substantial progress in establishing a viable budget not dependent upon ’smoke and mirrors’. They haven’t been shy about telling us, so it’s not ‘news’.

    That doesn’t happen, we’re in play. And the reality is that we might have not done enough even with all the cuts and reductions made pre-blowup.

    Time for both sides to grow up, take a timeout, do a full reset back to Monday morning and start from there. Because there is somebody (actually, 3 of them - S&P, Moody’s, & Finch) out there who has a much bigger stick.

  8. - Inactive - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 2:26 pm:

    In the interest of those with bigger sticks, we should just cut everything. Too bad who’s hurt. Schoolchildren, sick, elderly, mental patients, whoever. It’s the MONEY that matters, right? Can’t wait to see the fallout when/if these cuts to pensions occur. There’ll be a whole lot of cuts in spending from their wallets as well which just might affect businesses. Good. Let everyone pay.

  9. - Freeman - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 2:32 pm:

    Cross explains very clearly in the Illinois Issues piece linked to from post that this is part of a larger, comprehensive package.

    The budget agreement is contingent on the pension agreement, the Medicaid agreement already passed, etc.

    They didn’t just wake up and decide to change their minds randomly. When Madigan insisted on the cost shifting in the pension plan, the budget plan also fell apart.

    Even so, @Judgment puts it well. It’s important they don’t let egos or bickering get in the way here in the home stretch.

  10. - Judgment Day - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 2:34 pm:

    Inactive, that’s (again) reality.

    Doesn’t matter who likes it - I certainly don’t.

    But there would be one ’silver lining’. That 9+ bil backlog of unpaid bills would seriously start to be addressed.

    Sometimes, no matter what you do, you get the messy end of the stick.

  11. - Judgment Day - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 2:38 pm:

    Btw, IMO, the cost shifting for the schools TRS pension funding does need to be in the package. And I think that’s going to cause real issues down the road.

    But we’ve absolutely got to get the State of Illinois back onto a sound financial footing. And we better keep that TRS pension cost shifting option open, because we may have to go there - sooner rather than later. (much sooner).

  12. - Inactive - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 2:46 pm:

    Judgment Day—–the reality doesn’t go far enough is what I’m saying. They want to save money on Education (pensions, in particular), then there is so much fat to be cut from school programs. No school breakfasts, lunches, no PE, no at-risk preschool programs, no bilingual education, no busing, no driver ed in high school. I mean, really. There are so many ways to cut, so many places to cut spending before you have to kick my $28,000/year retired teacher mother out of her nursing home! Putting the burden of funding pensions on local school districts would have forced them to take looks at these luxuries in schools before damning old folks to early deaths!

  13. - Freeman - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 2:47 pm:

    To be fair, I just read a Tribune article where Madigan claims he never agreed to take a comprehensive approach where it was all or nothing regarding the budget, pensions, Medicaid, etc. So who knows.

    It is, however, still very frustrating to see that Gov. Quinn’s 1% “education surcharge” (aka income tax increase) was approved and doubled to 2%, but we’re still cutting education, education transportation, etc.

    Meanwhile, we’ve got plenty of money for tax credits and corporate handouts.

    Talk about getting the messy end of the stick.

  14. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 4:17 pm:

    === The Democrats should ask Quinn to veto lines which keep GOP facilities open ===

    Oh, I don’t think they’ll have to ask. I think Quinn’s definitely going to line those out. They were never in his budget to begin with.

  15. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 4:19 pm:

    === Here’s what counts. If the State of IL gets a full two step downgrade in our credit rating, we’re pretty much screwed. A full 2 step hit takes us down below ‘investment grade’. ===

    Only if we’re trying to borrow more money, right?

    93% of voters oppose more borrowing to solve the budget problem.

  16. - Judgment Day - Thursday, May 31, 12 @ 5:42 pm:


    It’s not the 28k a year pensions that are the issue. It’s that in TRS, right at 46% of all the TRS annual pension obligations are over $50k per year. And when you work the numbers, that’s a fiscal obligation that is simply not sustainable medium term, much less long term.

    “…so much fat to be cut from school programs”

    Ok. I’ve worked both in/for a number of local governments for a really long time, and I’m not disagreeing. But the old saying of “Change in Hard” applies, and it doesn’t tend to happen until times get hard.

    We’re not there yet, but we’re probably going to get there fairly soon.

  17. - wordslinger - Friday, Jun 1, 12 @ 8:07 am:

    JD, the rating agencies and investment bankers have no credibility. It took a while, but I think most folks realize the emperors have no clothes.

    I plan on wallpapering my bathroom this weekend with Groupon and Facebook stock certificates. The Enron and WorldCom look is way too turn-of-the-century.

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