* I told subscribers about this yesterday…
With just weeks left before Illinois’ 2016 budget must be passed, Democratic leaders and GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner remain far apart on how to bridge a $6 billion revenue gap.
A memo circulated by Senate Democrats late Tuesday questions roughly $5.8 billion in savings in Rauner’s proposed $32 billion budget. The caucus suggests the proposal may not only violate a provision of the Illinois constitution, which promises employee benefits shall not be “diminished or impaired,” but also likely requires changes to state law and federal policies and requires negotiations with labor unions.
Among the senators’ concerns is that cutting $1.5 billion from the Medicaid health care program for the poor, which is funded by state and federal dollars, would require federal approval.
Lawmakers began meeting this week to work on the governor’s “Turnaround Agenda,” a set of pro-business priorities Rauner wants the Legislature to approve in exchange for consenting to new revenue to save programs near and dear to Democrats. Without that grand bargain, the governor’s proposed spending plan would balance the budget entirely by slashing spending for things like Medicaid, human services programs and state employees’ group health care. The plan also includes a roughly $300 million increase to K-12 education, which the governor has identified as a top priority.
I’ve also been telling subscribers about that Rauner threat to withhold support for new revenues unless the Dems cut a deal on his “Turnaround Agenda.” This is a very high stakes game, campers.
* The full memo…
Here’s a rack up of some of the budget challenges faced by the Rauner administration as they negotiate FY16 through working groups.
Many of their plans require changes to state law, court challenges and federal approval. As you know – bills haven’t been filed yet.
Pension Reform: $2.2 billion
Problem: Constitutional challenges.
Cut Medicaid: $1.5 billion
Problem: Requires change in state law and federal approval.
Eliminate College Insurance Program and Teachers Retirement Insurance Program: $113 million
Problem: Requires change in state law that anticipates litigation.
Cut Group Health: $570 million
Problem: Subject to collective bargaining agreements.
Cut Funding for Local Governments: $913 million
Problem: Requires a change in state law.
Cut Dedicated Human Services Programs: $492 million
Problem: Violates consent decrees, judicial orders and some state and federal laws.
Total Hole: $5.788 billion
* The Rauner administration’s response…
Rauner’s deputy chief of staff Mike Schrimpf said it’s been known for months that the governor’s budget, introduced in mid-February, is contingent on “statutory changes” to state law.
“The governor is committed to making structural changes to state government,” Schrimpf said. “The Senate Democrats have known that since February 18, as has anybody who’s been paying attention.”
The required statutory changes will make it tougher to get this budget passed because legislators will be forced to take two very tough votes - one to change state law (or the constitution) and the other on the appropriations bill.
* Speaking of the 2016 budget…
Local officials from throughout Illinois descended Wednesday on the Capitol, lending their voices to the growing coalition of groups opposed to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget plan.
Along with labor unions, college students, Amtrak riders, social service agencies, and Democrats, mayors of both political stripes said the governor’s proposal for a 50 percent cut to the municipal share of state income taxes would be a devastating blow to local finances. […]
State Rep. Luis Arroyo, D-Chicago, said he disagrees with Rauner’s plan to cut social service programs.
“I’m just not going to vote for that,” Arroyo told his colleagues during a House budget hearing.
Yeah, well, he’s gonna have to vote for something or we’re never getting outta here.