Archive for May 2011

Illinois Senate Sends Gov. Pat Quinn Austere House Budget; Approves Extra $464 Million Supplemental

May 31, 2011

Child Care Association of Illinois President Margaret Berglind

(Springfield, IL) – May 31, 2011. Yesterday, the Illinois Senate passed the Illinois House version of the Illinois budget for next year that will soon go to Governor Pat Quinn’s desk.

“The House version contained significant budget cuts because it relied on a revenue projection about $2 billion less than the Governor Quinn’s proposed budget,” said Child Care Association of Illinois President Margaret Berglind.

The Senate also approved an additional bill that adds $464 million in appropriations to that budget.

That additional spending would restore $7.9 million to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, $13.2 million to Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, $109 million to the Illinois Department of Human Services and $216 million to the Illinois State Board of Education.

“The House must concur with the Senate’s proposed budget add-ons,” said Berglind. “We do not know as of this morning what the sentiment of the House will be as it reviews this additional spending proposal.”

If the House does not concur with that additional spending, then the House version of the budget stands as the final appropriated FY ’12 budget from the General Assembly, Berglind noted.

The legislature is scheduled to adjourn by midnight, tonight, May 31.

Little Movement on Illinois Budget This Week

May 27, 2011

Child Care Association of Illinois President Margaret Berglind

(Springfield, IL) – May 27, 2011. There was little public movement on next year’s Illinois state budget as the Illinois General Assembly worked behind the scenes on most budget decisions this week, according to the Child Care Association of Illinois.

“Other major policy debates took center stage at the state capitol,” said Child Care Association President Margaret Berglind. “Remap, pension reform, workmen’s compensation reform and ComEd rate increases dominated lawmakers’ attention this week.”

Late yesterday, Illinois Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) announced that the Senate Democrats would agree with the House version of the spending portion of the budget, but still disagreed with the lower House revenue projections, according to Berglind.

“The Senate is using the higher Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability revenue projection,” said Berglind. “The House is forecasting more conservative revenue growth.”

Berglind noted that a major $135 million difference exists between Senate and House budgets regarding general state aid for local school districts.

“Once the school budget is settled, it would appear other parts of the spending plan will be ready for vote,” said Berglind.

According to Cullerton, if the final budget uses the lower House appropriations number but the higher Senate revenue projection, any money that comes in above and beyond the spending plan would be used to pay backlogged bills.

“Senator Cullerton says any extra money would not be used for additional appropriations,” said Berglind. “It will pay overdue bills.”

The General Assembly is scheduled to meet over the weekend. The deadline for the budget is next Tuesday, May 31 at midnight, before a larger, 3/5th majority vote would be required to pass any budget.

Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka Offers No Alternative Gov. Pat Quinn’s Plan to Pay Illinois’ Delinquent Bills

May 27, 2011

(Springfield, IL) — May 27, 2011. For the upcoming year, Illinois lawmakers are weighing whether to pay bills with borrowed money or not pay businesses and local government money the state owes them.

However, if the state borrows the $6.2 billion for its bills, Illinois may have another mountain of debt in a few years.

Democrats are pushing the plan to borrow $6.2 billion in order to pay some of Illinois’ $8.2 billion in past-due bills.

Republicans say lawmakers have to stop borrowing and start cutting spending if Illinois is ever going to pay its bills and live within its means.

Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, who actually writes the checks for the state’s bills, said spending money now is not the solution.

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Treasurer Dan Rutherford’s Opposition to Legislative Efforts to Pay State Bills to Hospitals, Schools, Vendors Draws Criticism

May 24, 2011

(Springfield, IL) — Illinois’ treasurer cannot stop lawmakers from borrowing billions to pay the state’s backlog of unpaid bills, but he can make it more expensive — and that’s exactly what Dan Rutherford says  he plans to do.

Rutherford on Monday said he cannot support adding to Illinois burgeoning debt.

The first-term Republican treasurer released his own report that states Illinois total debt would cost every household in the state $42,000. Rutherford arrived at the number by adding Illinois’ $140 billion in unfunded pension and health-care liabilities, the state’s $45 billion bond debt, and the nearly $8 billion in unpaid bills.

The treasurer said lawmakers must cut spending and live within their means in order for Illinois to pay off the debt.

“You can’t borrow anymore money,” said Rutherford. “And if I need to send letters to the rating companies to tell them the treasurer of Illinois is opposed to any more borrowing, I’ll go ahead and do that.”

Rutherford said alerting national rating agencies and bond houses could make it more expensive for Illinois to borrow. He said hopes that step would give lawmakers pause before asking for a billion dollars.

And while the state’s treasurer can only stop short-term borrowing, lawmakers are maneuvering to pass a measure through the General Assembly that would bypass any authority Rutherford has.

“I don’t have a vote on (the Senate plan),” said Rutherford. “If it’s long term, I can’t stop it.”

State Sen. John Sullivan, D-Rushville, said Republican and Democratic lawmakers must approve any borrowing, and Rutherford’s approach to handling Illinois’ massive pile of unpaid bills bothers him.

“Right now we’re using school districts, universities, private companies and health-care providers — we’re using them as our credit card,” said Sullivan. “They’re carrying that debt for us.”
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Illinois General Assembly, Gov. Pat Quinn Must Reconcile Competing Illinois Human Services Budgets

May 21, 2011

(Springfield, IL) — Gov. Pat Quinn and former Gov. Jim Edgar may have different political views, but Quinn is dealing with a similar, but bigger, challenge than Edgar tackled during his tenure as governor.

Edgar faced a nearly $2 billion deficit in 1991. Quinn assumed office in 2009, inheriting a more than $13 billion deficit. Edgar left office in 1999 with a $1.5 billion surplus, crediting his success to raising the temporary tax which later became permanent, cutting state spending and saying “no” to new programs.

“That took time, and it took discipline,” Edgar said.

Quinn’s administration isn’t hoping for a budget surplus, but is expecting fiscal stability following proposed spending reductions and recent personal and corporate income tax increases.

Quinn’s proposed $35.4 billion spending plan for fiscal year 2012 aggressively slashes the overall human services budget by about $412 million, or 11 percent, one of the deepest reductions compared to other areas.

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Video: Illinois Legislature Protects Illinois Child Welfare Budget, Advocate Says

May 16, 2011

(Springfield, IL) — May 16, 2011. The Illinois Senate and House have approved their version of state human service budgets and both preserve core Illinois Department of Children and Family Services funding, according to the state’s top child welfare advocate group.

The Senate and House human services appropriations committees, chaired by State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago), respectively, which need to be reconciled in a legislative conference committee, preserve “essential” funding, according to Margaret Berglind, President of the Child Care Association of Illinois.

“Both the House and Senate have responded to our advocacy to assure essential services for DCFS wards are provided,” said Berglind. “We deeply appreciate the leadership of Rep. Feigenholtz and Senator Steans.”

Illinois Lawmakers Preserve “Essential” Funding for Abused and Neglected Children Care

May 13, 2011

(Springfield, IL) – May 13, 2011. Coming on the heels of Illinois Senate budget action last week, the Illinois House today approved its version of state human service budgets, preserving core Illinois Department of Children and Family Services funding, according to the state’s top child welfare advocate group.

The House Human Services Appropriations Committee, chaired by State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago), reduces the DCFS budget below the Senate’s levels, but preserves “essential” funding, according to Margaret Berglind, President of the Child Care Association of Illinois.

The House today approved, 83-25, the committee budget plan.

“Both the House and Senate have responded to our advocacy to assure essential services for DCFS wards are provided,” said Berglind. “We appreciate Rep. Feigenholtz and Senator Heather Steans’ leadership.”

Berglind noted, however, there is still some concern in the House version.

“Clinical services are cut 65%,” said Berglind. “These are services such as Integrated Assessment and Child and Youth Investment Teams that are critical to making foster care or high-end residential placement decisions.”

Other smaller reductions in areas such as counseling, residential treatment and foster care could be managed by DCFS internally, Berglind claimed.

“As long as DCFS understands that there should be no decrease to direct care,” Berglind said.

The House budget plan, House Bill 3717, reduces foster care by 1.5%, residential .63%, adoptions or guardianships .7%, and counseling 1.5%.

“Though the budget-making is far from over, we are cautiously optimistic at this point,” said Berglind.