Archive for the ‘Illinois Budget’ category

As Illinois Medicaid Costs Grow, State Rep. Patti Bellock Says Federal Government Blocking Illinois Changes

January 31, 2012

(Springfield, IL) – Illinois’ difficulties reining in its pension costs are expected to pale in comparison to its efforts to control Medicaid costs.

A new report released Monday from the Civic Federation, a Chicago-based nonpartisan policy group that focuses on state spending, predicts Illinois’ Medicaid costs will skyrocket over the next five years.

Laurence Msall, federation president, said lawmakers and governors have spent Illinois into a deep hole by expanding Medicaid, which provides health-care coverage to low-income families.

“What is most frightening is that even after the income tax, the state was not able to pass a budget to fully fund Medicaid,” Msall said, referring to a 67 percent personal income tax increase and a 48 percent corporate income tax increase in January 2011.

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Illinois Budget Squeezed, Treasurer Dan Rutherford Says Illinois Cannot Afford $6 billion Pension Payment

January 9, 2012

(Springfield, IL) – Illinois will be facing an $800 million deficit within three years, despite tax revenue projected to grow by more than $1 billion a year.

Illinois’ fiscal reality is bleak, said Kelly Kraft, the governor’s budget spokeswoman.

“These projections clearly demonstrate that action must be taken to control not only Medicaid costs but also (pension) costs or all other areas of government will continue to be squeezed,” Kraft said in a statement.

Quinn on Tuesday released his three-year budget projection in which Illinois in fiscal 2013 is expected to spend $33.7 billion, about $1.5 billion more than this year. By fiscal 2015, Illinois’ expenditures will reach $34.2 billion, or $2 billion more than the current budget.

The governor’s fiscal outline is part of the state’s Budgeting for Results initiative. Lawmakers created this process in 2011 to force the governor to craft a realistic budget within the financial means of the state.

The majority of the additional spending will be on public employee pensions.

Quinn’s own numbers project an $818 million deficit by 2015, even after holding spending flat on Medicaid, elementary and high school funding, and state government services.

Illinois’ pension payment jumps $1.1 billion in fiscal 2013, from $4.2 billion this year to $5.3 billion. By 2015, Illinois will be making an annual pension payment of $5.9 billion.

Republican State Treasurer Dan Rutherford said the state cannot afford a nearly $6 billion pension payment.

“If we don’t respond to the spending increases built into the governor’s budget for public pensions, Illinois is going to face a major cliff,” said Rutherford.

The treasurer said lawmakers are going to have to lower the pension costs for current state employees, despite the stance by Illinois Senate President John Cullerton’s office that legislation to alter current pension benefits is unconstitutional.

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Illinois Taxpayers Gave State Government a $1.2-billion Shot of Cash in August

September 9, 2011

(Springfield, IL) — Taxpayers gave Illinois a $1.2-billion shot of cash in August, or $464 million more than last August.

Personal income tax revenue jumped by 68 percent for last month when compared with the same time in 2010, almost mirroring the personal income tax increase of 67 percent approved in January, according to a report issued by the Legislature’s Commission on Government Accountability and Forecasting, or COGFA, this week.

Overall, the state’s revenue jumped from $1.9 billion in August 2010 to $2.2 billion last month, an increase of 13 percent.

However, focusing on the month-to-month numbers won’t give an accurate picture of the state’s fiscal health, said Jim Muschinske, COGFA’s revenue manager and author of the August revenue report that outlines Illinois’ finances.

“I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years, and I don’t get excited over one month. There is just too much that happens on a month-by-month basis,” Muschinske said.

For example, income tax receipts from July through December, or the first half of fiscal 2012, might show big gains compared to last year. But those increases are only because of the income tax increase, and not because the state’s workforce or economy is doing better, according to the COGFA report.

The state also got a one-time shot of $73 million relating to the selling of a permit for and opening of the state’s 10th riverboat casino this summer in Des Plaines.

Higher revenue for August flowed in despite the state collecting less money from the federal government. The end of the federal stimulus package and the state’s extension on paying its social service vendors caused a decline of federal funding by $264 million, or 66 percent less, to $135 million last month compared with $399 million last August.

For the entire fiscal year, the state will lose about $1 billion in federal funding, Muschinske said. Under the federal stimulus, for every $2 the state spent on Medicaid, the federal government kicked in $1.20. But that extra 20 cents has been phased out, along with the strings attached to it.

“What happened under the stimulus plan was that the federal government said ‘we’ll give you the higher matching rates, but in order to qualify, you are going to have to pay (social service) providers in 30 days. That’s far quicker that we’ve ever paid before,” Muschinske said.

“Now that the match is gone, part of the way to manage our resources was the decision to allow approximately $1 billion in bills to be pushed back and the payment cycled moved to more historic levels” of 60 to 90 days, he said.

The state now has overdue bills from social service providers, schools and others totaling $3.8 billion, said Brad Hahn, spokesman for the state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka’s Office.

Legislators, when crafting the $33-billion operating budget for the state, said that any extra revenue would go toward paying off the state’s backlog of bills.

However, Gov. Pat Quinn has said the budget sent to him doesn’t contain enough spending to operate at least 12 state agencies through the end of the fiscal year.

Andrew Thomason, Illinois Statehouse News

Will Governor Pat Quinn Sign Illinois Budget on Thursday?

June 28, 2011

(Springfield, IL) — Gov. Pat Quinn may sign the 2012 state budget Thursday, but the spending plan is not a one-and-done deal.

“The budget is an on-going process,” said Quinn. “We have to work on it 365 days of the fiscal year.”

Quinn, who introduced a nearly $36 billion budget, said he is not happy with the $33.4 billion spending plan that Illinois lawmakers sent him, and he wants more spending in education and human services.

But while Quinn can shift around money in the budget, he cannot order more spending, said state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago.

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As Federal Medicaid Aid Ebbs, Illinois Aims to Pay $1.8 Billion in Bills by June 30

June 23, 2011

(Springfield, IL) — Illinois lawmakers on Wednesday approved a plan to delay a $365 million payment into Illinois’ rainy day fund, and instead use that money to pay some of the billions of dollars Illinois owes to Medicaid providers.

Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka said the state is racing to maximize a federal Medicaid match that expires at the end of the month. Illinois is getting 57 cents on the dollar for qualifying Medicaid bills that it pays this month. Starting in July, that rate falls back to the normal 50 cents on the dollar.

Maximizing the $365 million, Topinka said, should allow her to pay $1.85 billion in Medicaid bills by June 30. She estimates Illinois could receive an extra $90 million to $100 million from the federal government.

“The Medicaid match did not solve all of our problems, but is sure as heck helped,” said Topinka. “And come the 30th of June, we lose that help, and we’ll be out there on our own.”

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Lawmakers Adjourn for Summer, Fail to Agree on Extra $400 Million for Illinois Human Services

June 1, 2011

Child Care Association of Illinois President Margaret Berglind

(Springfield, IL) — The Illinois General Assembly concluded its spring session and adjourned for the summer late last night, but the Illinois House refused to concur with the additional spending recommendations for next year’s Illinois budget made over the weekend by the Illinois Senate.

“Those budget add-ons would have meant more than $400 million in additional appropriations for Human Services agencies,” said Child Care Association of Illinois President Margaret Berglind.

Instead, the House appointed a Conference Committee to work on the bill, but the Senate, however, declined to do so before adjourning.

During concluding remarks, Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) noted that the Senate could be called back into session before the regular veto session in October.

“The House version of the budget is now the final appropriated budget,” said Berglind.

The total budget of $33.2 billion that the legislature sent to Governor Pat Quinn is about $2 billion less that the Governor’s proposed budget. Although total spending is a bit higher than last year’s levels in most areas, the cost of the state pension payments will be covered within this budget and not funded separately as in some previous years.

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Quinn Witholds Judgment on Illinois Budget Approved by Lawmakers which Spends $2 Billion than Governor’s Plan

June 1, 2011

(Springfield, IL) — June 1, 2011. The new Illinois budget may spend less than Gov. Pat Quinn’s original proposal, but it is higher than this past year’s budget and was balanced by delaying the payment of billions of dollars in unpaid bills until this current fiscal year.

“The governor has been clear … that while we put our fiscal house in order, we must continue to protect core priorities,” said Kelly Kraft, Quinn’s budget spokeswoman.

Quinn is “reviewing” the budget’s impact on Illinois human services and schools statewide, Kraft said, which were among those items lawmakers trimmed to reduce spending from Quinn’s $36 billion to $33.2 billion.

House Democratic budget architect Frank Mautino, D-Spring Valley, said the new spending priorities include Illinois’ $4 billion pension payment.

The budget “for the first time doesn’t hide the true costs of state government by taking the pensions off budget,” said Mautino. “We’re making all of our pension payments, which for the past three years we’ve had to borrow” to fund.

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