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Dart: Rauner budget cuts “alarming,” lack “financial sense”

Thursday, Feb 19, 2015

* Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart had this letter delivered to the governor’s office yesterday evening…

Illinois is in serious financial distress and we owe the citizens of this state an honest conversation about how we address the crisis, both from a fiscal standpoint and a moral one. Like many, I welcome a fresh look at how taxpayer dollars are being used and abused in all levels of government.

Yet, your budget proposals are alarming, not only for their insensitivity to the millions of lives they impact, but also for their lack of financial sense. In the face of jaw-dropping budget shortfalls, politicians for years have looked to cut state services that are crucial to large segments of our population who lack the cash and the lobbyists to fight back.

After just a month in office, you are proposing more of the same. Cutting already strained mental health programs; alcoholism and substance abuse treatment programs; criminal justice services and youth services does nothing to make Illinois a place people want to live. Slashing funding for our most vulnerable children through DCFS and kicking 18-year-old wards to the curb with no transitional support does nothing to right our ship.

Morality aside, such tactics – which are scaring hundreds of thousands of people and children across this state – are simply bad budgeting. When mental health and substance abuse programs are shuttered, where do you think the people needing that care end up? When a DCFS ward – even the ward’s child in some cases – is sent into the world without adequate help, what do you think will happen to that teenager on the street?

We know, all too often, they end up in the most costly government system of all, the criminal justice system. Once there, costs for prosecution and incarceration start racking up every minute, every day, every month.

You know this too. Your own budget calls for spending more money to reduce recidivism to save the state prison system money. You recently announced an ambitious goal to lower the state prison population by 25% in the next 10 years. Yet, cutting social safety net programs will only widen the pipeline to state prison for the most vulnerable members of our society.

Knowing your business acumen, I expected a budget proposal that was not so penny wise and pound foolish with people’s lives. Please reconsider this short-sighted proposal.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

66 Comments
  1. - NW Illinois Dem - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 5:48 pm:

    Solid budget commentary from Sheriff Tom Dart, especially the “penny-wise and pound-foolish” line. Glad Dart is voicing his concerns about the human impact of this proposal.


  2. - Tornadoman - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 5:49 pm:

    Rauner will just laugh at this. Dart hit the spot though.


  3. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 5:51 pm:

    NW, he just hired Abdon Pallasch, so he’s got a guy on staff who understands the budget.


  4. - The Captain - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 5:51 pm:

    If you didn’t know that Dart was considering a run for Governor you do now.


  5. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 5:52 pm:

    ===you do now===

    Oh, please.


  6. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 5:52 pm:

    Dart is Spot On;

    My take?

    “Running a state isn’t like running a business, and cuts that seem easy or smart ignore what smart governing is about.”

    Dart is On It


  7. - PublicServant - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 5:58 pm:

    Way to go Tom. I’m proud of you.


  8. - Oldtimer - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 6:01 pm:

    Very well said by Mr. Dart.


  9. - Just Me - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 6:03 pm:

    I think it unwise for anyone to so loudly complain about their budget cuts, a smarter strategy is to work with the Governor - not against him.


  10. - nothingsurprisesme - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 6:05 pm:

    It’s good that Dart put it into terms Rauner can understand. It will COST MORE in the long run than it will save. Who cares about the lives, it’s all about the money, Governor.


  11. - Soccermom - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 6:05 pm:

    ABDON. BOOM.


  12. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 6:08 pm:

    - Just Me -,

    Rauner needs votes. Rauner will come to them. Saying anythubg isn’t going to change the math dynamic.

    Abdon, nice piece of work product. You and your Principle, well stated.


  13. - Dupage Donnie - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 6:10 pm:

    Bullseye with that Dart


  14. - crazybleedingheart - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 6:11 pm:

    “I think it unwise for anyone to so loudly complain about their budget cuts, a smarter strategy is to work with the Governor - not against him.”

    Go sell your respectability politics to people gullible enough to believe that you can nice your way off the redundancy list and that being beholden is better than being powerful.


  15. - Millennial - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 6:17 pm:

    OK guys, I’ve given it a lot of thought and decided:

    I won’t budge on receiving ALL of my pension and healthcare benefits.

    However, I feel really guilty about seeing all these poor people lose basic services because of me, so the solution I think is for someone else to pay for it.

    OK, now that’s settled when can we start refinancing debt and borrowing money?


  16. - Wensicia - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 6:22 pm:

    Well said!


  17. - archimedes - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 6:26 pm:

    Hey Millenial - how about we ALL pay for it? Not someone else, not more debt, not more refinancing debt. Let’s all pay for it.

    The best way to do that is with the broadest tax structured in the fairest way.


  18. - Macbeth - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 6:27 pm:

    Rauner loves this. It’s proof that he’s doing the right thing according to the Koch’s — and Limbaugh, and Walker, and whoever else buys into the trickle-down GOP nonsense.

    Dart’s words will end up on a campaign commercial when Rauner runs for a second-term.


  19. - AnonymousOne - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 6:36 pm:

    Rauner could not care less. He’s a business/math guy. Isn’t that what so many people wanted?


  20. - Jeff Trigg - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 6:47 pm:

    Macbeth, using Koch bashing talking points on an article about the criminal justice system is beyond dopey. The Koch’s have been donating multi-millions the past decade on criminal justice reforms and have even teamed up with the likes of Dick Durbin on federal legislation curtailing mandatory minimums. Having to throw around the Koch name constantly is worse than the Raunerbots routine around here.

    Has Tom Dart figured out how to allow jail visitors without locking the visitors up in interview rooms for more than 30 hours? Dart may be absolutely right, but he needs to help out our budget by running his jail better to avoid all the lawsuits and claims against Dart’s jail.


  21. - crockpot - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 6:51 pm:

    its so easy to sit back and criticize Rauner’s budget without offering an alternative. this guy seriously has the hardest job im America right now.


  22. - Terry R. - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 6:56 pm:

    The Dems would be wise to put Dart and other non-Springfield types out front like this. As Cullerton points out, a lot of folks, particularly in Chicago, don’t really understand what state government does. Having Dart and others explain cuts in simple terms is the best way to make an argument against Rauner. Take the debate outside of the Statehouse mud wrestling pit. Put Dart, hospital folks, and people with developmental disabilities out front, not the speaker and senate prez.


  23. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 7:02 pm:

    ==- Jeff Trigg - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 6:47 pm:==

    Oh yeah, Cook County Jail was a model of efficiency, safety, and modernity before Tom Dart became sheriff. /s


  24. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 7:03 pm:

    ==- crockpot - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 6:51 pm:==

    I have an alternative, it’s called the FY15 governor’s recommended budget presented last year.


  25. - crockpot - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 7:11 pm:

    i thought that budget wouldnt work because it wasnt balanced?


  26. - Steve - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 7:34 pm:

    Dart’s response was well written as a Sun-Times column filled with sources from the Cook County Democrat party. Excellent work !


  27. - Get a Job! - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 7:38 pm:

    Scathing, good on Dart. I doubt I could’ve penned anything near that perfect.


  28. - Huh? - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 7:41 pm:

    “It will COST MORE in the long run than it will save.”

    You forget that the carhart jacket is a venture capitalist who only thinks about how much money he can make in the shortest amount of time.


  29. - Kippax Blue - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 7:43 pm:

    Steve–You may not be aware, but the Sun Times sole (soul?) endorsement went to Rauner. And for the record, it;s Democratic Party. But given your post, I wouldn’t expect you to be aware of either point.


  30. - Mitch59 - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 7:43 pm:

    I still can’t believe this guy got elected!


  31. - Chi - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 7:46 pm:

    Rauner is going to learn this isn’t a business takeover- he doesn’t get to skate off with short term profits in 4 years and move on to another conquest. He will own the long term damage a budget like this does to the state.


  32. - Dupage moderate - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 7:46 pm:

    Financial sense…like the financial sense he shows by willfully failing to follow the law by evicting people not paying their rent.

    Financial sense. Please.


  33. - Josh - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 7:49 pm:

    thank you Tom Dart for saying enough with the BS. How many years do we need to relearn that cuts to mental health and substance use prevention and treatment leave people homeless, increase incarceration, and hospitalizations


  34. - Anyone Remember - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 7:55 pm:

    Millennial
    Everyone benefitted from the effects of diverting $ from State pension contributions into other spending / tax cuts / tax breaks. Now that the bill is due, proving the power of compounded interest, only government employees are to sacrifice?


  35. - Facts please - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 7:57 pm:

    –DuPage Moderate –

    Dart refused to enforce evictions against tenants who were paying their rent but faced eviction because their landlords had stopped paying their mortgages and were foreclosed by the banks. That makes plenty of financial (and moral) sense.

    http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/January-2009/Bright-Knights/Diane-Limas/


  36. - Jeff Trigg - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 7:58 pm:

    Precinct Captain - Straw man fallacies are weak. No one claimed Dart’s jail was efficient, safe, or modern before Dart took over, least of all me, so your comment is senseless.

    But I’ll throw an argument right back at you that isn’t a made up straw man like your’s was. Lawyers from Northwestern in their class-action lawsuit representing 2,000 former inmates against Tom Dart and his jail, say Dart is running a jail with a “Sadistic Culture Of Brutality And Violence”. That was in the NY Times.

    Also, in 2010, under Tom Dart, the U.S. Department of Justice forced Dart to sign a consent decree to allow independent monitors of his jail who were tasked with making sure Dart was doing more to provide safe living conditions. The MacArthur Justice Center even joined the lawsuit against Dart and his sadistically run jail.

    Got any more made up straw man statements you want to try to defend Dart’s disgusting record of running the Cook County jail?


  37. - MrJM - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 8:08 pm:

    Facts please,

    Thanks for correcting DuPage Moderate’s mischaracterization of Dart’s eviction policy.

    – MrJM


  38. - Jeff Trigg - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 8:11 pm:

    Kippax Blue, are you aware that most Illinois Democrats could care less about democracy and don’t deserve the name Democratic? They were instrumental in violating the US Constitution for 25 years so they could keep all independent candidates off the ballot.

    Is that what you call being democratic, illegally keeping competition off the ballot? Illinois Democrats are still blatantly discriminating against independents in our election laws, so do you really care about holding free and equal democratic elections, or are you just typical party loyalist?


  39. - Lil Squeezy - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 8:13 pm:

    Millenial

    I will expand on what Anyone Remember is saying. Money went to schools when pension contributions were not made. Money went to universities, prisons, infrastructure, hospitals, mental health programs, rehabilitation programs, etc.

    These expenditures and many more are expenditures for the common good. Expenditures that are the responsibility of the whole.

    If you want to be mad at someone be mad at past generations. They are the ones receiving the free ride (at retirement). Sure that includes public employees too. But don’t blame them because they are/were public employees, blame them because they were voters who allowed this to happen. In other words it is likely not your fault (assumption based on your name), but it was the fault of your parents generation, your grandparents generation and likely the generation before them (if not further back).

    I would rather not play the blame game at all, I don’t see a lot of benefit in that. I would rather see the whole correct this problem. But if you are looking for someone to blame, public employees are just a small slice of the pie.


  40. - Kasparov - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 8:21 pm:

    Jeff Trigg is correct.

    Dart can’t possibly have any viable opinion if he hasn’t turned the overcrowded, underfunded, staff-stressed leviathan of the Cook County Correctional Center into a little baby lamb.

    Keep up the courageous work, Jeff, staring straight into the frightening abyss of “facts” and “data” and never deviating from the preordained talking-point flight plan despite that occasional fleeting tug on your heartstrings of that poor maladjusted orphan boy kicked-out on his own for his 18th birthday present. One day (if he doesn’t get the AIDS) he will thank us for our conservative compassion, for what would Jesus do but cut the budget to the core for the sake of bond ratings. PTL.


  41. - Wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 8:44 pm:

    JT, I don’t think Rauner’s proposals are going to help ease the pain at Cook County Jail, or Cook County Hospital, for that matter.

    Those places are generally the last alternatives when the other programs aren’t available.


  42. - Amalia - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 9:19 pm:

    Tom Dart, big heart, a thinker, and right on.


  43. - Jeff Trigg - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 9:36 pm:

    Wordslinger, I agree, Rauner will apparently make things worse in that arena. But if the Democrats had used their power wisely or effectively the past ten years, there wouldn’t even be a Rauner to make these proposed cuts.

    Are there any letters from Tom Dart to Quinn, Madigan and Cullerton the past ten years that we should be aware of, or is this just yet another political lip service piece that won’t help solve anything?

    Cook County arrests more people for cannabis possession than anywhere else in the country. Even after Sheriff Dart was given the option to just issue tickets. Dart gets no sympathy from me.


  44. - Millennial - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 9:37 pm:

    Anyone Remember/Lil Squeezy: You are both right to an extent. But lets get a little more accurate.

    The people who benefited were all Illinoisans from the late 1970’s to the late 1990’s (approximately one generation). The State was broke well before Blagojevich.

    The debt from Thompson, Ryan and Edgar is $111B in pension payments and $250B in OPEB obligations: $361B Total! How can you promise yourself a future benefit and contribute only 20% to pay for it????

    You can’t. And it won’t happen. There is still massive denial on this issue. The Governor will use the pension deficit as an excuse to cut everything to the bone, but in the end these benefits will not be paid. Its too much money, too late. Regardless of what happens in the Supreme Court in March, the Justices can’t print money.

    If you look at people above the poverty line, the debt equals $2,000.00 per year, per person, for 30 years.

    Good luck


  45. - prairiestatedem - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 9:42 pm:

    Tom Dart, again standing up for the voiceless and most vulnerable in our state. Im proud of his tireless efforts to bring justice to those afflicted by mental illness,and the working families who were caught in the crosshairs of the foreclosure crisis. Tom is right, the return on investment of community based intervention programs saves taxpayers in the long run and is quite frankly the right thing to do!


  46. - springdim - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 9:44 pm:

    Will Tom Dart finally run for Governor and rid us of this meddlesome billionaire?


  47. - Dozer - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 9:48 pm:

    Is Tom thinking a comeback to the patch?


  48. - RNUG - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 9:49 pm:

    - Millennial -

    You need to back up at least tow more decades, if not three. In 1970 the pension funds were at the same 40% +/- level as they are today. They didn’t get that way overnight. That funding level is why the Pension Clause was incorporated in the 1970 Constitution.


  49. - Wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 10:27 pm:

    So RNUG, if the pension funds were at 40 percent in 1970, like now, what did they do when they all went broke and started bouncing pension checks?

    Because if the problem was the same 45 years ago, that had to happen. Because as Ty and the Tribbies have told us, for years, that kind of problem is insoluble and we’re all doomed.


  50. - RNUG - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 10:29 pm:

    - word -

    LOL. You know just as well as I do that they never went broke … and over the years they ranged up and down from 40% to 80% to 40% depending on both State contributions and investment returns.


  51. - Out and About - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 10:38 pm:

    This letter is right on! I’m glad Mr. Dart called a spade a spade and puts these proposed cuts in the terms of the human devastation they would inflict. When Tom came to my county in 2002, even though it is over 300 miles from Chicago he made a connection with my friends and neighbors because he is a stand up guy. I for one applaud his efforts and would be happy to support him if he runs.


  52. - Jorge - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 10:40 pm:

    Millenials should sit this out. Besides when is every recipient of pension bennies going to ask for their money at the same time? Before long most people in the system will be tier 2 thus lowering overall future liabilities.


  53. - Tired - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 10:42 pm:

    Thank you, Sheriff Tom Dart!


  54. - RNUG - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 10:42 pm:

    == Besides when is every recipient of pension bennies going to ask for their money at the same time? ==

    When Rauner stampedes them out the door?


  55. - Millennial - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 10:54 pm:

    RNUG: I do not disagree with you. But the portion of the problem I am describing is unique because it is exacerbated by Thompson’s hiring binge. Its the sheer number of retirees plus poor funding plus annual increasing benefits plus health care that is the cause of this. You can’t cut or tax your way out of it. The retirees have to lose a significant portion of their benefit before you can reach a solution.

    unlike the 1980’s and 1990’s when GDP grew at almost 9/10%, we are now in a period where growth is half that or less. Economic growth is also concentrated in a smaller segment of the population (smaller tax base).

    The only unique solution that I see to this is to create a new tax on cropland. Currently cropland is taxed at less than 1% of its value (approximately $12.00 per acre. You could create a special tax, maybe $18.00 per acre to supplement state finances or pay the pension debt. Such a tax would create an additional $400M a year. Even then, $4B over 10 years only reduces the pension liability by 3% and the total pension +OPEB liability by 1.1%


  56. - walker - Thursday, Feb 19, 15 @ 11:01 pm:

    The difficulty in making these hard tradeoffs is that everyone sings exactly the same song — pay now or pay more later — with varying degrees of validity. Ounce of Prevention’s entire pitch is this, so Rauner’s heard it all before.

    Tom Dart has some credibility here, seeing all the fallout, and running out state’s biggest mental hospital as a county jail.


  57. - Jorge - Friday, Feb 20, 15 @ 12:13 am:

    Well played RNUG.


  58. - Kippax Blue - Friday, Feb 20, 15 @ 4:42 am:

    –Kippax Blue, are you aware that most Illinois Democrats could care less about democracy and don’t deserve the name Democratic?==

    Oh dear. Jeff, please reference your 7:58 post–tho one in which you state “Straw man fallacies are weak”.

    Cue “My City Was Gone” bumper music for JT


  59. - low level - Friday, Feb 20, 15 @ 5:50 am:

    That’s the Tom Dart I know. I love the dig he gets in.
    Very good Sheriff.


  60. - Will - Friday, Feb 20, 15 @ 7:08 am:

    Millenial-
    If you think the GA is ever going to raise taxes on cropland you are really out of touch with Sfld. Ask anyone down here who the most powerful lobby in the state is…also if the pension funds would go broke, have zero $ in them, the state would be forced to pay retirees directly out of the general fund. To the tune of about 7bil a year. RNUG could tell you the case but in the early 80s a lawsuit was brought against the state asking the court to force the state to fund pensions. The court ruled only that the pensions MUST be paid, but the court could not force the state to fund the systems.


  61. - Kathryn - Friday, Feb 20, 15 @ 7:23 am:

    Tom Dart is one of the good guys.


  62. - Excessively Rabid - Friday, Feb 20, 15 @ 7:30 am:

    ==The only unique solution that I see to this is to create a new tax on cropland. ==
    As of 2/20/15/ 7:24 AM
    Electronic Trade
    Corn
    Mar-2015 388-6 -1-0
    May-2015 396-4 -1-2
    Jul-2015 404-2 -1-0
    Soybeans
    Mar-2015 1004-6 -2-4
    May-2015 1009-2 -2-0
    Jul-2015 1013-0 -2-0
    Fat chance. The timing couldn’t be worse. Anyway, why would cropland be singled out among all the assets owned by businesses, particularly family businesses? Because it happens to be real estate?


  63. - Arizona Bob - Friday, Feb 20, 15 @ 7:59 am:

    Typical hack job from Dart. He complains that spending will be reduced, but doesn’t offer a SINGLE approach to solving the fiscal problems in Illinois. Does he want a tax increase? He doesn’t say. If so, how much and who should pay it? What about the pension funding problems that are driving these cuts? Any recommendations from the 19th Ward hack? Nope.

    Dart is symptomatic of the mindset that took Illinois on the financial path to disaster. When Quinn, MJM, and Cullerton were passing fantasy budgets and were telling department heads to grossly underestimate their budgets because “he’d take care of them later”, where was his outrage? Nowhere to be seen, or heard. When Blago was taking “pension holidays” and borrowing for operating expenses, a TERRIBLE governmental practice, was Dart writing op-eds about the travesty? No way!

    Dart has just exposed what he is, and isn’t. He’s not a problem solver or a leader. He’s just a sniper with a bad aim….


  64. - Anonymous - Friday, Feb 20, 15 @ 8:33 am:

    Bob, the point of Dart’s letter is that these cuts will cost more in the long run. Ask whoever is reading it to you to draw a picture, maybe that will help.


  65. - Ann - Friday, Feb 20, 15 @ 11:40 am:

    A lot of anger here. There’s a lot of bad stuff going on at the jail. That doesn’t mean Dart’s letter is meaningless. I agree that it’s important to have people like him out in front on this discussion.


  66. - Nancy - Friday, Feb 20, 15 @ 1:45 pm:

    i just read the comment above my and laughed until i figures his actions will cost my money :(


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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