By Barton Lorimor Email | @bartonlorimor
* From a press release…
Nearly 90 percent of state spending has now been committed because of recent court rulings and Rauner administration actions even though there is no state budget in place.
Illinois Senate Democrats estimate that 89.4 percent of all state general funding is covered by court orders, consent decrees, mandated state spending or other agreements and arrangements. In other words, almost 90 percent of what the state usually spends has already been committed even through there’s no state budget in place.
In recent weeks, a federal judge ordered the state to pay Medicaid providers who serve children in Cook County. Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration subsequently announced that it would expand those payments to Medicaid providers serving children throughout the state. Most recently, the administration further expanded that to cover all Medicaid providers and all services statewide in order to avoid additional legal action.
That means nearly $7.8 billion worth of Medicaid spending will occur at the Department of Healthcare and Family Services despite there being no state budget in place. Medicaid spending across all state agencies is approaching $9 billion in the absence of a budget. The Medicaid program and overall budget numbers reflect Senate Democrats’ best estimates based on tracking of past budgets and estimated spending for those programs in the current budget year.
The remaining 10.6 percent, according to the Caucus, was broken down in an attached graphic…
At the moment, the court orders and other agreements have put the state on a trajectory to spend an estimated $38 billion this fiscal year. The budget lawmakers approved that the governor vetoed, contained $36 billion in spending and investments. The state is expected to bring in $33 billion in revenue this budget year.
The thing is that these consent decrees do not cap spending. They only say what services or operations should be funded - sometimes broadly. To the best of our knowledge the administration is sticking to Fiscal Year 2015, but absent a budget and with the decrees structured the way they are there isn’t anything binding them to that.
So what if the budget passes with an appropriation that is below what was spent under the consent decree? It doesn’t sound like there is solid answer to that right now. Depending on how late in the year a budget comes and how much has been spent by then, is it possible there won’t be enough left to cut so that revenues and expenditures line up?
The whole scenario reminds me of speculation during the campaign that Rauner would have to sign a tax increase because the budget would be that bad and his hands would be tied. Are we headed that direction?
* I did ask the Governor’s Office if they agreed with the Senate Dem’s analysis. Their response…
The Governor proposed and asked the legislature to support numerous proposals that would result in billions of dollars of savings to the State, including adjustments to Medicaid provider rates, reductions in the amount the state spends on units of local government, pension reforms, workers compensation reforms, and reforms to the state employees’ health insurance program, among others. None of those proposals have been enacted by the legislature. None.
Instead the Madigan Democrats continue to support the failed status quo and push only for tax increases which failed to solve any problems over the last 4 years.
* Senate Democrats announced their intentions to make MAP Grants their next funding goal. They call it a “financial aid compromise to end student limbo…”
Democrats increased MAP funding in a budget proposal approved earlier this year. Rauner, however, vetoed the legislation, leaving many colleges and students in limbo for the coming year. Because of the governor’s veto, the state began its budget year on July 1 without a full budget plan, forcing colleges and universities to start up a new academic year with no state support and no financial aid for students.
That’s where the Senate hopes to begin to add some certainty. Since the governor vetoed efforts to raise MAP funding, the Senate Democrats are now putting forward a compromise that mirrors funding levels recommended by the governor in his budget plan.
Gov. Rauner recommended spending $373.3 million on student financial aid through MAP. The General Assembly approved an addition $24 million in student aid that led to the veto.
The bill is here.
* Our Opinion: Topinka correctly predicted Illinois’ heart attack: The state is like a body, Topinka said during a campaign debate between her and Democratic challenger, former Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon. “If you try to pull it all out now, you will take a $2 billion hit, and you will cause the state to have a heart attack,” Topinka said. “You will also cause me to have a heart attack, because it would leave us high and dry.”
* Budget stalemate adds to Illinois harness racing industry’s woes
* Local colleges crediting students for MAP grants held up by state budget impasse