Interesting day of testimony for the Senate Human Services Committee on consent
decrees, the state budget and how the Administration manages spending without a
Comptroller Munger was invited to this hearing but It was no surprise that neither the
Comptroller nor any Senate Republicans showed up at the Senate Human Services
Committee hearing today.
The hearing was worth it just to hear the Legal Advocates testify on protecting
powerless, vulnerable children and adults. The Advocates exposed the need for the
court’s intervention because of the State’s long-term violations of federal law and the
constitution. Ben Wolf, Barry Taylor, Tom Yates and John Bowman, heroes all!
Senator Biss began the hearing stating the significant importance for the fiscal health
of the state, that without a state budget we harm to individuals who receive state
services. All are confused: the individuals, providers and state staff. We all wonder
how the State’s money is being spent and, lest we forget, the human consequences
of no state budget.
The Senator asked the panel for the Administration for comments. The panel included
Director of the Budget, Tim Nuding, Donovan Borvan and Greg Bassi of the
Budget Director Nuding indicated they had no comments but would respond to
questions from the committee.
Senator Biss asked about the Administration’s perspective on consent decrees.
The Director responded that the state budget is now on auto pilot by paying mandated
costs like payroll, pensions, court orders and consent decrees. The consent decrees
are costing the state about $14 million. The Courts are running the state. The auto
pilot budget is spending at a rate of $38 billion, facing a $6 billion deficit if nothing is
The Director went on, the actions of the General Assembly severely limit the
Administration’s ability to manage the auto pilot budget. The universe of managing this
budget is very limited by the Administration because of rates, court orders and
We have never gone this long without a state budget.
Donovan Borvan, Associate General Counsel for Governor Rauner then addressed
consent decrees. Consent decrees don’t go away here in Illinois and they restrict the
power of the Administration to govern by good public policy. The court orders and
consent decrees are running state government. This is not in our best interest.
The next panel were the Legal Advocates whose topic was “Explanation of Consent
Decrees.” Ben Wolf, American Civil Liberties Union; Barry Taylor, Equip for Equality;
Tom Yates, AIDS Foundation; and John Bowman, the Shriver Center briefly
described the various consent decrees.
Summarizing their testimony, all the advocates outlined the State’s noncompliance with
consent decrees, court orders, compliance with federal law and constitution over the
The advocates do not take lightly the filing of lawsuits and entering into consent
decrees. Often in Illinois it is the only and best option. Often this occurs because the
State would lose in federal court for failing to comply with federal law and the
constitution. Our objective is to insure constitutional rights and services for powerless
children and adults.
Consent Decrees can and do end but the burden is on the state to prove the state is
complying to end decrees.
Tony Paulauski Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423