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Stating the obvious

Friday, Feb 27, 2015

* A Bloomberg story quotes some Illinois’ “debt investors” as saying the state can’t rely solely on budget cuts alone

“I’m very skeptical that his budget will be able to achieve balance by doing what he’s doing,” said Jim Schwartz, head of the municipal credit research team at New York-based BlackRock, which oversees $116 billion in munis. “The best way from his view is let’s cut spending, and I just look at it as very aggressive.” […]

“I don’t think they’re going to be able to get to the level that they need to with budget cuts alone,” said Dan Heckman, a senior fixed-income strategist in Kansas City at U.S. Bank Wealth Management, which oversees $126 billion. […]

Moody’s Investors Service said in a Feb. 24 report that the state’s political landscape will make it tough to enact the governor’s proposals without raising revenue. […]

“There’s going to have to be some balance between revenue enhancements and cutbacks on spending,” said Heckman, whose firm holds less Illinois debt than indicated in its benchmark. […]

“The feeling out there is that they have a lot of room to raise taxes, and theoretically they could,” said Peter Hayes, head of munis at BlackRock. “Eventually there will be some moment, some day of reckoning which makes everybody wake up and say we really need to pass something.”

* Related…

* $167M cuts to DCFS include major foster care program

* Home services program loses millions in Rauner’s proposal

* Social-service agencies fear painful cuts under Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget plan

* Gov. Rauner proposes hard-hitting budget cuts - University administration prepares response to proposal

* Western to ‘wait and see’ over Rauner’s budget proposal

* Supporting Efforts to Advance Adult Dental Coverage and Access in Medicaid

- Posted by Rich Miller        

41 Comments
  1. - walker - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 10:56 am:

    Oh the joys of using arithmetic!


  2. - Tim Snopes - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 11:00 am:

    Not sure why these institutions are so worried about telling their story. WIU wants to tiptoe. Just come out and tell your story. Cuts will hurt Illinois families and the middle class the most.
    Why are you so worried about taking the Governor on? Is it that you’ll get your local House and Senate members in hot water by forcing them to take a position?
    Is everyone so worried about retribution? Are you worried about someone coming after you an destroying you?
    On second thought, never mind.


  3. - A guy - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 11:05 am:

    I think we covered this yesterday and yes; they are stating the obvious. It’s more fodder and research to ensure the “obvious” is obvious to every soul in the state who possesses a double digit IQ.

    We’re on the road to “the people” not just accepting, but requesting some form of revenue enhancement, provided they recognize everything else has been cut to the bone. We’re getting there. And it hurts.


  4. - Ducky LaMoore - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 11:07 am:

    Even Wall Street wants a tax hike! Wow. That should say it all.


  5. - archimedes - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 11:08 am:

    I suspect both R’s and D’s expect some revenue. I think Rauner just used the pension savings as a “plug”. While I think he endorses the hard freeze of the current pension system and that is a goal he really wants - he only used $2.2 billion of the $3.2 billion (estimated by actuaries) it would cut in cost.

    Maybe he realizes it is magic beans and didn’t want to put that much on the table. Its a delicate balancing act - if he cuts too much (many would say he already is there) nobody will even go there and new revenue seems like the only option.

    If he cuts too little (without much pain) too many will think any revenue is not really needed.

    Then again, I could be attributing more thought and planning to this process than what might have gone into it.


  6. - Biliary Sludge Report - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 11:15 am:

    Wall street paving the way, sowing the seeds, laying the groundwork, opening the door, making the case, easing the way……whew….for a tax overhaul. And with it, increased revenues.


  7. - How Ironic - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 11:21 am:

    @ Archimedes:
    “Then again, I could be attributing more thought and planning to this process than what might have gone into it.”

    Yes, that’s exactly it. Rauner isn’t paying $30,000 a month to his slash and burn consultant to give serious planning.

    He’s looking for headlines, and doesn’t either realize or care how actual legislation works.

    And I think that he’s serious as a heart attack about the cuts. We’ve seen it in his dealings in private industry. Cut services so low in nursing homes, that patients literally die. All so the investors can suck the last of the profits out before it all implodes.

    He really doesn’t care about the poor and disabled. To them, they are but a stepping stone to more money in his pockets through takeaways and service cuts, while maintaining the artificially low tax rates.

    It’s immoral, but his past doesn’t indicate he actually cares about anything but what goes into his wallet.


  8. - vole - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 11:28 am:

    Surprise, surprise. For how many years have I been reading on this site that “solving” this budget crisis is going to take both cuts and revenues. So, who, among Rauner’s staff is going to tell him he is wrong? He probably already knows it but is serving the poor cuts up first before serving up the rest of the sacrifice sandwich on everyone else. That is if “everyone” really means anything.


  9. - forwhatitsworth - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 11:30 am:

    Appropriate title for this story and situation.


  10. - VanillaMan - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 11:37 am:

    Its not about the numbers - it is about the politics being so badly played by the new administration. Rauner wasn’t elected to fight as an anti-union anti-government conservative and he actually went out of his way all last year to assure us that he wasn’t.

    So, right off the bat, he exposed himself as a liar to everyone who thought he wasn’t what his political opponents said he was, and confirmed to his critics their worse fears. Find a way to build a trusting relationship for compromise after that fiasco!

    His budget was an opportunity wasted. He says he is willing to take arrows, but he doesn’t seem aware that he is a porcupine filled with self-inflicted arrows already. Polls show he is bleeding popularity at a rate he can’t afford politically. Instead of proving that a Republican can make a BLUE state function, he is proving the opposite.

    What gives? Jim Edgar told me in a group once that his biggest rookie mistake was being too honest in what he wanted within his budget, not leaving enough room in it to cut a good deal. After his first budget, he would ensure that his numbers included room for bargaining and few knew where he really wanted to end up until after the budget was signed.

    That was 25 years ago. An entirely different reality for Illinois. Edgar was a governor from a different GOP than today’s. He was an established SOS and statewide political leader. He was called, “Little Jim”, because the previous governor was beloved as “Big Jim”. Edgar had a set of positive experiences in the public eye before presenting his first budget. Edgar didn’t have to prove himself.

    Rauner had to. After over a decade of scandal and uselessness, the ILGOP is still a very small minority party. The new governor is an outsider to a political party too comatose to win against Quinn in a national GOP landslide, or against Blagojevich as he was being fitted for an orange prison jumpsuit. Rauner has to prove to Illinoisans what Jim Edgar did not have to prove.

    And right now, Rauner is failing.


  11. - Wordslinger - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 11:39 am:

    Guy, don’t you think those Rauner voters are going to be a little honked that he’s been lying to them for two years?


  12. - Anonymous - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 11:55 am:

    Unfortunately, no candidate of either party can tell the truth because, lets face it, voters don’t want to hear the truth. We want all of the services, low taxes and whatever my special interest is, don’t touch it and give it lots more money. Said state of affairs for sure.


  13. - A guy - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 11:56 am:

    ====Wordslinger - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 11:39 am:

    Guy, don’t you think those Rauner voters are going to be a little honked that he’s been lying to them for two years?====

    I’m just going to assume you’re serious since we’ve had one strong serious agreement thus far today.

    I think his voters (honked or not) will be more satisfied hearing from him that he’s turned over every rock and looked in every cranny for waste and opportunity. He’s already suggested to them that despite knowing things were horrible, they’re even more horrible than previously imagined. (I know you view this statement with cynicism, but set that aside for a moment)

    He’s methodically made the case for cuts and maintained a provision for some new revenue. And he did that even while campaigning…i.e. Income tax at 5% and lowering it over a greater period of time to 3%.

    He’s doing everything he’s doing very publicly in this regard to make it as visible as possible how this math works out. Agree or disagree with the process, I believe that’s what’s going on.


  14. - Kodachrome - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 11:58 am:

    = Jim Edgar told me in a group once that his biggest rookie mistake was being too honest in what he wanted within his budget =

    So, VM, am I wrong, or have I been reading in this blog over and over for the past two weeks repeated attacks on Rauner for NOT being honest enough with his budget proposal??? I mean, jeez. Seems to me that the Gov did exactly what you are saying Edgar did - he left himself room to negotiate, keeping in mind that you can’t keep giving heroin (new taxes) to heroin addicts (the GA) if you want to get them off of the drugs. I mean, I am not a big fan of the guy, but I haven’t seen this constant degree of sustained hostility towards a politico on this blog in quite a while.


  15. - Six Degrees of Separation - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 12:21 pm:

    I haven’t seen this constant degree of sustained hostility towards a politico on this blog in quite a while.

    Yeah, Pat Quinn, for all the arrows he took, at least gave us a little respite between the “sustained hostility” of the Blago years and the future hostility of the Rauner years, LOL.


  16. - 4H - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 12:23 pm:

    Not to double down on the Trib bashing, but I love when they, and others, portray the bond agencies like they are Moses coming down from the Mount, until they call for more revenue — that never gets mentioned in the editorials.


  17. - Grandson of Man - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 12:34 pm:

    Ratings agencies saw that the income tax increase improved our fiscal situation, as it obviously did. Some of us also think that raising revenue is not only good fiscal policy but good moral policy.

    It’s good that financial types are bolstering the revenue argument. Those who oppose austerity-only, strongly in my case, welcome this news.

    To those who voted for Rauner and expected something different, please don’t say you’re surprised.

    Rauner’s backing off of unions was a campaign ploy that started when he almost lost to Dillard. His budget ideas were and are harsh, vague and unrealistic. The optics of a multimillionaire slashing funding for vital services for the poor, while the highest earners benefit the most from the income tax reduction, are beyond bad.


  18. - Arsenal - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 12:36 pm:

    ” keeping in mind that you can’t keep giving heroin (new taxes) to heroin addicts (the GA) if you want to get them off of the drugs”

    If your priority is to keep the GA from having any revenue, you’re in a very weird place.

    We’ve been cutting the state budget for years now, Rauner proposed exponentially bigger cuts, and still he has to rely on magical thinking to make his budget balance. Comparing state spending to whatever scary thing you want won’t change the fact that we actually have a Revenue Problem here.


  19. - Precinct Captain - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 12:37 pm:

    A guy, Rauner spent two years telling people that a net revenue increase was not necessary whatsoever. Rauner voters are not going to wake up and say, “I’m glad he wants to raise taxes” if and when he proposes such an increase.


  20. - Federalist - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 12:54 pm:

    It is obvious to me that the 5% income tax rate must be reestablished. But this is meaningless unless there is a 10% across the board budget cut (by each agency) from last years budget. Otherwise, the money will be spent and the problems continue. This was not done when the 4 year tax hike was enacted and we still have a mess.

    Past bills must be paid off. It is the biggest albatross around the state’s neck.


  21. - carbaby - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 1:13 pm:

    Still waiting for them to account for the loss of federal funds(title iv-e) that reimburses the State for care of the 18-21 year olds. That was not included in their budget. Ironically George Sheldon was over the federal Administration for Children and Families shortly after this funding was implemented for the states. The research and outcomes to support funding for this population is evidence based. It is also documented how much of a financial drain on the society there is for not investing in this population.

    Curious- where are the couple hundred kids who are in the Youth in College program supposed to go after they are kicked out of foster care and then have no home to return to? How will they finish college when they have no family and no support?
    Where are the kids who are in residentials and group homes supposed to go to when they get kicked out of care and have no home/family to go to? A good majority of these kids are there for a reason and couldn’t be stepped down into a lower level of care due to the severity of their issues.

    Where are the several hundred in Specialized foster care who are severely delayed, medically complex and cannot otherwise function independently supposed to go when they are told they are no longer in care and their foster family will no longer receive funding? They certainly can’t go into adult services- because those are being severely cut as well.

    Where are the kids in Independent living programs and transitional living programs supposed to go when their funding to live in the community is cut and they have no family or support system to assist them?
    And last I checked Pregnant and parenting wards are covered by a Consent Decree.

    I’m also curious as to the planned cut of 87 Child Protection Investigators. Didn’t we just go through a whole reorganization of DCFS to put more staff in Investigations because that was the greatest need? Their current caseload levels are already above mandated levels.


  22. - Kodachrome - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 1:13 pm:

    = It is obvious to me that the 5% income tax rate must be reestablished. But this is meaningless unless there is a 10% across the board budget cut (by each agency) from last years budget. Otherwise, the money will be spent and the problems continue. This was not done when the 4 year tax hike was enacted and we still have a mess =

    Thank you, Federalist


  23. - How Ironic - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 1:14 pm:

    @ Federalist:
    “But this is meaningless unless there is a 10% across the board budget cut (by each agency) from last years budget.”

    Ah yes, the old ‘10% across the board cut’ line. Any other useless platitudes you wish to toss out there?

    Maybe go to ‘zero base budgets’ or ‘fraud, waste and abuse’?

    Why is it always 10%? Why not 9% or 11%? I mean 11% is just 10% on steroids.

    As if it were that easy. Do tell, wise sage, where would the IEPA cut? They don’t use GRF. Are you suggesting we just arbitrarily cut 10% out of our Federal Funding? If not…why not?

    Give up the gimmicks. They don’t forward the conversation. At. All.


  24. - Pot calling kettle - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 1:17 pm:

    The question I would like Rauner to answer is this: Did you, or anyone on your team, actually read Quinn’s budget proposals last year?

    Rauner’s mantra of “I don’t need more revenue” has been loud and strong. His caveats have been quiet and weak and, when questioned, he undermined them. If he has been planning a flip on revenue all along, he botched the setup. If he did not plan on a revenue flip, he either did not read the budget last year or he is as arrogant and ignorant as some have been saying.

    In the beginning, I thought he was just playing the game that would lead the voters to a tax hike. But, hiring Arduin and his current slate of cuts have me wondering. Maybe he really is arrogant and ignorant about what it will take to fix the state budget.


  25. - Kodachrome - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 1:19 pm:

    = Rauner spent two years telling people that a net revenue increase was not necessary whatsoever. Rauner voters are not going to wake up and say, “I’m glad he wants to raise taxes” if and when he proposes such an increase =

    No, PC, they will never say they are glad about it, but if they feel that a solid chunk of waste, corruption and inefficiencies are eliminated in state government, they will accept it as necessary


  26. - How Ironic - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 1:23 pm:

    @Kodachrome:
    “if they feel that a solid chunk of waste, corruption and inefficiencies are eliminated in state government, they will accept it as necessary”

    We don’t have 6 Billion in waste, corruption and inefficiencies. Why is that so hard to figure out?

    When you get to suggesting throwing poor people out into the cold, and taking children of ventilators…I think you’ve cut through the fat, past the muscle, and snapped the bone in half. Now you’re just digging in marrow for the ’sport’ of it.

    Or are you suggesting that freezing people, and taking them off vents is just another ‘inefficiency’?


  27. - Kodachrome - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 1:25 pm:

    It’s not a matter of not understanding we don’t have $6 billion to cut, its a matter of, for example, having $1 billion to cut and not doing so because, hey, lets just increase taxes. People who voted for Rauner want as much as possible cut FIRST, before there is discussion of revenue increases, because as they see year after year, it won’t be done in a fashion that gets this state on the right path


  28. - Wordslinger - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 1:27 pm:

    Kodak, would you point out the “waste, corruption and inefficiencies” savings the governor identified in his budget proposal?

    I see $200 million in unspecified “operational efficiencies” in $32 billion of GRF spending. That Quinn must have run a tight ship if that’s all they could find.

    Some of you guys are giving way too much credit for a grand strategy here. The pension and health benefit “savings” are the only clues you need to conclude the whole exercise was a punt.


  29. - anon - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 1:28 pm:

    === No, PC, they will never say they are glad about it, but if they feel that a solid chunk of waste, corruption and inefficiencies are eliminated in state government, they will accept it as necessary, ===

    TRANSLATION: When Republicans pass a tax hike, then it must be necessary, but when Democrats do so it is to fund waste, fraud and abuse.


  30. - How Ironic - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 1:30 pm:

    @Kodachrome:
    “People who voted for Rauner want as much as possible cut FIRST, before there is discussion of revenue increases, because as they see year after year, it won’t be done in a fashion that gets this state on the right path”

    I see. So lets just cut, because really in the end…we don’t give a #$%@ about the actual services that are being performed.

    They are delusional if they think that Rauner is proposing any realistic budget. And to suggest that it’s only a ‘negotiation tactic’ is sickening.

    It’s like going to buy a house, and threatening to burn it down if the sellers don’t come down $100,000. Because after all ‘if I burn it down…it’s worth far less.”

    I think that’s called extortion no?


  31. - Kodachrome - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 1:36 pm:

    How Ironic - whats sickening to me are Govs and a GA that have kicked the can down the road for well over a decade. Somehow people seem to think that 5% solved budget problems over the past 4 years. Tell me how? I don’t see anything solved, what I see are politicians who figured out how to blow it.

    Ex: sale of parking meters in Chicago. Boy, that extra revenue reeeeeally solved things, didn’t it? You have to solve the systemic spending problems, or at least make the effort, before you give more to spend. Naive to think it can be done? Agreed


  32. - Wordslinger - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 1:40 pm:

    Kodak, you’re spinning yourself silly.

    The grab back of local government income tax is a revenue increase for the state. And the phony pension savings are a back door short to the funds, once again, long-term borrowing to support short-term operational spending.


  33. - Kodachrome - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 1:40 pm:

    anon - I am not an R or a D. They both are responsible. I agree a tax hike is needed. I just disagree that it should be the first resort.


  34. - Juice - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 1:54 pm:

    Kodachrome, the state’s backlog of unpaid bills was much lower before the tax hike expired than before it was passed four years ago. The state also managed to make it’s pension contributions without having to go an borrow the money. Are problems solved, no. Did the situation get better, yes. And the fact that you would use the City’s parking meter deal to describe how that state is poorly spending money shows how relatively clueless you are on this subject.


  35. - Apocalypse Now - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 2:02 pm:

    Let’s make sure every penny is rung out of the spending side and agreed to publicaly by the R’s and D’s, I meant Madigan and Cullerton. Then talk about revenue. Other wise will spending will increase to meet the expected increase in revenue, which is a common theme in government. Push pension costs to the local governments and reducing local government payments from the state are two good ways to help the long term financial condition of the State.


  36. - VanillaMan - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 2:17 pm:

    The fact that I relayed a moment when Jim Edgar discussed budget negotiations suggesting that he needed to have a more extreme starting point in negotiating a budget, shouldn’t lead anyone into believing that I should accept the extreme starting points in the Rauner budget.

    If we look at the economic situations of Illinois during the freshman Edgar year to what is happening today, we should easily see how markedly deteriorated Illinois is in compared to 25 years ago. After serving years as the secretary of state, Edgar didn’t propose anything like the strychnine Rauner has.

    Edgar wouldn’t have proposed what Rauner did if he was reelected in November. He would have seen how small the GOP power base was in the GA, and would have made sure he didn’t propose a budget so ridiculous and unbelievable, that he wouldn’t be weakened further.

    Rauner can’t negotiate with the budget he presented. It has no credibility! It doesn’t matter if the new governor believes that his proposals were good starting points for budget negotiating - because they are not. How do we know this?

    By looking at the backsides of all the other GOP players high-tailing it away from him. We can see how poor his negotiating position is by how quickly his proposals were not just shot down, but laughed at and ridiculed by people reporting on economic issues within Illinois, and nationally. We know this because the credit services are tasked with dealing in the non-political world of numbers and read what they are saying.

    Jim Edgar proposed budgets that he later told us weren’t extreme enough to survive negotiating within the a GA more bipartisan than today’s. That doesn’t make Rauner’s budget and its extreme and nonsensical approach to budgeting more understandable, even in that comparison.

    Even if Rauner believes he will need to compromise on what he has proposed, he was undermined completely by everyone with experience with budgeting, inside and outside of governments.

    That means he failed.


  37. - Kodachrome - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 2:19 pm:

    Juice - I hear you, but we need much, much better. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize that the more money we have at our disposal, the better. But yes, this state spends money poorly. While it is the City, the parking meter example is simply there to show how a big fat wad of money can get blown by politicians spending other people’s money almost immediately without any proportional discretion on spending. And how those spending it juuuuust cannot stop themselves from spending more. Should I be impressed that we paid what we are obligated to pay without having to borrow? Um, no. It is the acceptance of the theory that it is ok to borrow to fund your spending that caused us this problem in the first place - that and the thought that the investment gravy train of the 90’s and early 00’s would never end. I also understand that government borrowing is not always a bad thing at all - however, with our current debt and credit rating, any further borrowing is extremely dangerous.

    Again, if you don’t work for a GRF state agency where you can see inefficiency in action, you will never understand how little efficiency change has occurred through any prior cuts. I believe the coming year is going to disclose a lot more of it than we’ve seen in a long time. At least I hope so. If not, this Gov is just more of the same, only from the other side of the aisle.


  38. - Buzzie - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 2:23 pm:

    Rauner is nothing more, as governor, than a one dimensional apostle of bottom line financial gains and losses; a priority of money over people and programs.


  39. - Federalist - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 3:13 pm:

    @How Iaonic,

    You make some good points in your critique of my comments. Certainly 10% is an arbitrary number. But I was trying to cut at least $3 billion in present GRF as well as adding additional income from the renewal of the 5% income tax. Perhaps the percentage should be somewhat higher or lower-but it needs to be significant and it needs to be done now.

    I used the across the board approach, not because it is necessarily the best approach (it isn’t) but because I do not trust politicians to reduce their favorites while decimating some other program that they have no interest in or they figure can’t buy them votes.

    As to federal funds. I am sorry you misunderstood. But I thought I was clear that I was talking about Illinois GRF only.


  40. - Federalist - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 3:48 pm:

    @Vanillaman,

    Although you regard Edgar more highly than I do your points are well taken.

    I enjoy your posts as to me they are well thought out and you speak your own mind in a thoughtful but tough manner.


  41. - Apocalypse Now - Friday, Feb 27, 15 @ 4:06 pm:

    Great comments Vanilla Man.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


* Reader comments closed until Tuesday
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