Archive for May 2010

Illinois House Approves New Illinois Budget; Governor Pat Quinn Gets Emergency Budget Powers

May 27, 2010

Governor Pat Quinn

(Springfield, IL) — May 27, 2010. The Illinois House on Wednesday night passed a $26.2 billion budget plan previously approved on May 6 by the Illinois Senate.

The Illinois budget, House Bill 859, is a “lump sum” and, as a result, there are few specific appropriations lines to track. Lump appropriations went to specific state agencies and a super lump sum—$2.3 billion—went to the Governor’s office to allocate.

“The spending plan cuts the state agencies’ operations approximately 5%–or $400 million—from FY ’10 levels,” said Marge Berglind, President of the Child Care Association of Illinois.

Some state agency appropriations actually tally to levels that are more than a 5% reduction. The shortfall would then have to be negotiated between the agency and the Governor’s office from that “super lump sum”, Berglind noted.

The Illinois State Board of Education budget still contains worrisome reductions in mandated categorical lines. If the legislature approves the $1 per pack cigarette tax, much of that revenue is geared towards reducing some of those cuts.

The House also passed the Emergency Budget Act, which contains a series of provisions for revenue (i.e. a $1 billion borrowing from restricted state funds) and administrative authority.

“The Emergency Budget Act will give Governor Pat Quinn power to cut the budget as he sees fit without the General Assembly’s approval,” said Berglind.

All programs are “subject to appropriations” so that potentially any program, including entitlement programs, could be cut or reduced. Quinn could also hold back funding from state agencies and could adjust service and reimbursement rates at will.

The Emergency Budget Act bill must go back to the Senate today for concurrence on amendments. The Senate previously passed its own version of this act on May 6, though it is not expected that this will pose a problem.

Senate President John Cullerton

The House also passed legislation that permits borrowing to meet its  $3.5 billion pension payment obligation. That authorization to borrow reduces some strain on the spending plan. The Senate must concur with amendments on this bill as well.

“Currently, Senate passage of the pension borrowing is in doubt,” said Berglind. “Senate President John Cullerton is still trying to round up votes for the plan pushed through the House by Speaker Michael Madigan.”

The House must still debate the cigarette tax and tax amnesty provisions of the budget framework.

The legislature is likely to have the final pieces of the budget in place by the end of the week. However, the spending plan itself is complete.

“As the Child Care Association of Illinois previously predicted, this lump sum budget now goes to the state agencies to develop line item budgets,” said Berglind. “Those agencies must determine their own priorities and then translate those into actual spending plans for specific programs and services.

“It may take some time for us to verify and validate the plans of the state agencies for specific programs and contracts.”

Berglind noted that this spending plan, in general, is not as drastic in its reductions as it could have been, although there will be areas of concern as the year progresses.