Archive for April 2011

As Illinois Human Service Budget Cuts Loom, GOP Lawmakers Grill Quinn Officials on AFSCME Pay Raises

April 29, 2011

(Springfield, IL) — April 29, 2011. The Illinois Department of Human Services says it will be forced to cut programs to some of the state’s most vulnerable residents unless it is spared from deep cuts in next year’s budget.

But lawmakers on Thursday questioned the agency’s commitment given the fact that DHS employees received pay raises.

“I don’t know who is more vulnerable in Illinois, tell me who they are,” said State Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Highland, in a heated discussion during a committee meeting. “Bring in your AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) employees and have them stand before us, and tell us that they are more vulnerable than the people at these facilities.”

DHS Secretary Michelle Saddler said the workload for employees has doubled due to layoffs, and that DHS employees have received pay raises that total up to $47 million.

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Treasurer Dan Rutherford Backs Borrowing Plan to Pay Illinois Vendors

April 20, 2011

(Springfield, IL) — Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford and Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka can both agree on a plan to merge their offices, but short-term borrowing is a different thing.

Republicans opposed Gov. Pat Quinn‘s plan to borrow $8.75 billion to help the state pay off its debt of $9 billion to $10 billion. Quinn wants to borrow $2 billion in short-term loans to help pay the state’s backlog of bills.

Any short-term borrowing must win the OK from both financial offices.

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Radogno, Cullerton Clash on Illinois Budget

April 18, 2011

(Springfield, IL) — Illinois Senate Republicans and Democrats agree that cuts are a must to balance next year’s budget, but they argue over exactly how to do it.

After the Senate on Friday passed several measures to make payments to state pension funds, Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said they would have to slash about $1.2 billion from Gov. Pat Quinn’s $35.4 billion budget to balance the checkbook for the next fiscal year.

Cullerton said he wants to see lawmakers in the coming weeks suggest changes to the approximately 40 different pieces of legislation that make up Quinn’s proposed budget, a move Cullerton said would make the process more “open and transparent.”

“We’re not suggesting going behind closed doors, and having a take it or leave it plan that we dump on the desk of the members,” said Cullerton.

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Illinois Democratic House Lawmakers Promise “Tough Choices” on Illinois Budget

April 12, 2011

(Springfield, IL) — There are going to be some tough decisions made in Springfield.  And not everyone is going to be happy with the outcomes.

The Illinois House’s appropriations committees will be outlining in the coming weeks specific spending amounts for next year’s Illinois budget, a power they haven’t exercised in many years, said State Rep. William Davis, D-East Hazel Crest, who heads the committee that will divvy up funds for elementary and high school education.

In recent years, the General Assembly has typically deferred a lump sum to the governor, allowing him to take control over the specific details in the budget.

Davis said he’s “excited” about the House’s decision to take a more hands-on approach.

“Here’s an opportunity to really get into what these programs do. How (are) they helping people? Are they helping people? Is the amount of money they receive worthy of that?” Davis said.

House committees have held hearings since January to learn more about specific programs and agencies vying for spots in the budget.

For elementary and high school education, informal talks began last week to decide on the exact numbers, but it’s still too soon to tell, Davis said.

“As bills start to float out of committee, you’ll be able to see right away who exactly is on the chopping block, who’s receiving level funding or for that matter who may even be reduced, or in some cases may lose their funding,” Davis said.

The committee will decide on $7 billion, or about 28 percent of the general revenue fund, a number based on budgets from previous fiscal years.

State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, who chairs the House Appropriations-Human Services Committee, is dealing with a $12-billion budget, or 50 percent of the general revenue fund. She said the task of carving up that amount “daunting,” but remains optimistic about the outcome.

“It’s not fun to have to make the tough choices, but it’s what these very challenging times are calling for right now,” Feigenholtz said. “Watching government become more efficient and us more accountable with the taxpayers dollars is a clear message we got in the last 12 months.”

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Illinois House, Senate Pursue Separate Illinois Budget Plans

April 11, 2011

(Springfield, IL) — The differences between Illinois’ 2011 budget and the still-to-be crafted 2012 budget are becoming more apparent each day.

Lawmakers in the House and Senate are working on their own versions of a spending plan, complete with revenue projections and line-by-line appropriations. It’s not clear which chamber will set the final total for a state budget, and that may not become clear for a while.

This week, Senate Republicans said they are hoping to work with the Democrats who control the upper chamber in Springfield to figure out how to spend a little more than $34 billion. The House budget figure is just above $33 billion. Gov. Pat Quinn wants to spend $35 billion next year.

Senate GOP budget point man State Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine, said just having a conversation about spending and different numbers is a break from the past.

“This process feels a little different,” he said. “We’ve got some new players involved from years past, so I don’t know that the past is predictive of how this year is going to go.”

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Illinois Human Services Faces $900 Million Less than Proposed by Gov. Pat Quinn under Illinois House Budget Plan

April 4, 2011

(Springfield, IL) — As the Illinois House of Representatives and Gov. Pat Quinn duke it out in the state budget ring, the House is about $3 billion lighter compared to the governor’s spending fund.

From the House’s $33.2 billion fiscal year 2012 budget plan, lawmakers set aside $23.8 billion to fund state agencies and services.

Quinn has a $26.9 billion spending fund for state agencies and services. The governor said the state should not forget about the “fundamental things in life (such as) public safety, health care and education.” He has strongly criticized the House’s projected “radical severe” cuts in education funding.

House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago this week outlined the House budget proposal’s spending — for instance $12 billion for human services and $8.9 billion for education. The Quinn administration, meanwhile, would hand out $12.9 billion to human services and $9.5 billion to education.

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