* More from the Pritzker administration’s new financial report…
Furthermore, as this new administration continues to unearth the true costs taxpayers now face, another clear finding is that the previous administration failed to perform other strikingly basic tasks of government, including:
• Allowing massive project delays and cost overruns for IT systems that still fail to function properly, putting vulnerable citizens at risk for losing healthcare services;
• Permitting staffing levels to atrophy at critical executive branch agencies, including reducing the numbers of State Troopers and understaffing caseworkers at human services field offices;
• Ignoring audit findings, leading to costly consent decrees;
• Failing to process revenue receipts in a timely way;
• Defaulting on rent payments – for instance, on the administration’s federal office in Washington DC;
• Failing to follow federal OSHA and Illinois Department of Labor staffing enforcement plans. This
lack of adequate staffing put state, local and private sector workers at greater risk of on-the-job injuries. Failure to comply also resulted in the loss of nearly $3.2 million in federal funding – almost 50 percent of federal OSHA funding in FY17 and FY18.
The governor’s chief of staff was in DC to visit the office and was told by the landlord that the state was something like a year behind in rent.
In addition to the financial damage done to the state over the last four years and its resulting impact on Illinois’ most vulnerable residents, one of the most tragic events came in the form of the Rauner administration’s handling of the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Quincy Veterans’ Home. By September 2015, 54 people from the home tested positive for Legionnaire’s disease, 12 of whom died due to the illness. Following this event, Legionnaire’s has been found in surrounding areas; further highlighting the critical need for meaningful infrastructure investment by the state. Rebuilding the Quincy Veterans’ Home is estimated to cost the state in excess of $100 million along with a larger match from the federal government.
Other state-run facilities continue to struggle to provide adequate care. Insufficient medical care for inmates at the state’s correctional facilities led to the Lippert consent decree in December 2018, as the state is still grappling with the costs associated with meeting the requirements under the Rasho settlement for mental health treatment from 2016. In FY20 alone, this will lead to cost increases for medical and other care at Correctional facilities in the tens of millions of dollars range and implementation of an electronic medical records system that will cost millions of dollars.
Other continuing financial pressures that will require State investment going forward include:
• Increasing funding for the Illinois State Police to help rebuild their ranks after the suspension of cadet classes in FY16 and FY17 led to a decline in state troopers. It will cost Illinoisans over $8 million in FY20 for two cadet classes to help build their ranks.
• Requirements for Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to put into place a federally compliant child welfare information system.
• Reversing the damage done when a new Integrated Eligibility System (IES) failed to achieve its desired outcome. The IES was intended to make the Long-Term Care application process more efficient but actually did the opposite, resulting in increased delays in processing applications and admissions under the previous administration.