Arc and Lawmakers Leave Tax Extension As Election Issue
The budget that is going to pass the Senate, possibly even today, relies upon
borrowing from many of the state’s special funds that will have to be paid back.
For the Department of Human Services it is about $101 million that is being
borrowed to continue funding community developmental disabilities services.
This could be a very problematic situation for us in 2015 because the borrowing
is a one time event.
The budget for the Division of Developmental Disabilities for community services
will be similar to this year’s budget. Decisions will have to be made about
potential cuts within the Division because union contracts for pay raises were
not included in this budget.
I expect “Rebalancing” to continue as well as the implementation of the Ligas
Consent Decree and 500 individuals will move off the PUNS Waiting List. Murray
will close and another state institution may have to close because this budget is
not balanced. I am still seeking the details of this budget.
The Care Campaign will continue to work to increase wages for Direct Support
Dan Blair, Budget Director for the Division of Developmental Disabilities, will be
at our next Executive Forum meeting to discuss the budget on Wednesday, June
Story from the Chicago Tribune on the budget follows.
Democrats’ plan for state budget: Put off decisions
Lawmakers leave expiring tax hike as key election issue
By Ray Long, Monique Garcia and Maura Zurick Tribune reporters
Illinois Democrats on Tuesday rolled out a new state spending plan that puts
off many tough decisions until after the November election by relying on a
series of time-tested budget tricks.
To make ends meet, at least on paper, lawmakers would bump up how much
money they think will come in, borrow from special funds, put off paying bills,
lower estimated health care costs and skip putting in money to pay for
unionized workers’ raises.
The $35.7 billion spending plan — roughly $300 million more than this year’s
budget — is a compromise that emerged after lawmakers declined to extend a
temporary income tax increase that’s set to start expiring in January but also
refused to make deep cuts.
The House approved much of the budget Tuesday with the goal of finishing
up before Saturday’s adjournment deadline. As is the case most years at the
Capitol, the plans are in flux with final numbers still being ironed out.
Speaker Michael Madigan acknowledged that the budget proposal would
leave unfinished business, and he vowed to spend the summer and fall working
to get the income tax hike made permanent to provide more money to run state
government. The approach also ensures that the governor’s race will continue
to be framed up by opposite positions on a tax hike that Democratic Gov. Pat
Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner have staked out.
“My expectation is that this issue will be taken into the general election, and I
think the governor will be supportive of an extension of the income tax increase
through the general election,” Madigan said. “My expectation is that Mr. Rauner
will be against. So you’ll have a clear line of division going into the election. And
people can make their choice.”
The Quinn administration isn’t happy with what’s being put together.
“It’s clear it’s incomplete,” Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said. “But
the governor is working to protect critical priorities, including public safety,
education and core services for our most vulnerable. This budget does not
avoid the tough decisions, it just postpones them.”
Rauner has been campaigning for more than a year to let the tax hike expire
but has not offered specifics on how to put a budget together, saying he’ll offer
a plan “in due time.” On Tuesday, his campaign offered no comment.
The budget moving ahead at the Capitol does not rely on extending the
income tax increase, which went from 3 percent to 5 percent in January 2011
and stands to drop back to 3.75 percent early next year. If that happens, state
coffers would take a $2 billion hit in the next budget and $4 billion in the one
It’s the third budget plan to surface in two weeks. The initial plan envisioned
that the tax hike would be made permanent, but there weren’t enough votes in
the House. Last week, a plan that included major cuts as a result of losing the
tax hike revenue got just five votes in support.
The latest plan tries to find a middle ground, but it relies on what critics
dismissed as gimmicks and tricks.
About $650 million that had been going to pay down a stack of billions of dollars
in overdue bills in recent years instead will go to balance the books. Another $650
million would be borrowed from hundreds of funds that are set aside for specific
special purposes. Still another $380 million would come from delaying payments
for state employee group health insurance.
Rosier revenue estimates, long a staple of statehouse budgets, also are on
the table this time. The state is now estimating it will collect an extra $200 million in
the new budget year that starts July 1.
The budget blueprint also does not include millions of dollars in raises for state
workers that are part of union contracts. Madigan acknowledged that could mean
layoffs, noting that agency directors are used to getting less money than they
“I think the other state agencies have learned from this experience how to go
about managing their agency with less employees than they have had in the past,”
said Madigan, D-Chicago.
Unions representing government workers are opposed, saying the pay hikes
are contractually obligated.
“This so-called flat budget actually continues real and harmful cuts,” said
Anders Lindall, spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and
Municipal Employees. “In the prisons, we’re told it could mean four facility
closures, the premature release of 5,000 criminals into Illinois communities and
hundreds of lost jobs.”
Chicago Democratic Rep. Greg Harris said the state will be able to squeak by
for a few months but that the cuts will be felt more acutely in January.
“People will not stop being disabled, people will not stop getting elderly simply
because we don’t have the ability to raise the revenue to pay for it,” said Harris,
who chairs the Human Services Appropriations Committee. “So the providers are
going to be faced with the fact they are going to be serving those people until
their appropriation runs out.”
Republicans argued that it was irresponsible for Democrats to push a
spending plan that relied so heavily on borrowing, saying that practice is what
helped getIllinois into such a financial mess in the first place.
“It has to be paid back,” said Rep. Ron Sandack, R-Downers Grove. “That’s
a reason why this ‘middle of the road’ budget is such a farce.”
The new spending plan would increase education spending by $118 million.
Most of that would go into keeping the basic general state aid distributed to
various districts at 89 percent of where state law says it should be. That’s the
level in the current budget.
But the budget also would cut $137 million from community care programs that
serve the elderly at home. Another $7.8 million would be cut from programs that
provide in-home care for the disabled. Funding for child care for the poor would
be cut by $24 million, one legislative analysis showed.
Also eliminated would be $10 million for grants for after-school programs and
$15 million that funded anti-violence programs that arose from Quinn’s troubled
Neighborhood Recovery Initiative. Republicans argued that the Democrats
moved money into different agencies to keep some of the programs going.
The cuts aren’t likely to go over well in the Senate, where Democrats have a
larger majority and tend to favor more social spending, not less. Senate
President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, remained supportive of making the income
tax increase permanent but acknowledged lawmakers have to deal with the
political reality of the situation.
“We made the arguments as to why there’s the need for revenues,” Cullerton
said. “But we don’t have it. So now we’re proceeding with passing the budget.”
Da Tribune reporter Rick Pearson contributed from Chicago. email@example.com
Tony Paulauski Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423