According to Senator Steans, there is $235 million in the supplemental appropriation bill to pay all back bills for developmental disability providers for Fiscal Year 2013. In addition, payments to providers in Fiscal Year 2014 should be much more timely in this new budget plan.Grants are generally cut by 1% in the DHS budget.
Summary of voting on the budget by House members from today’s Chicago Tribune.
$35B state budget wins backers
April tax revenue windfall helps stave off deeper cuts; Medicaid expansion passes
By Monique Garcia and Rick Pearson Tribune reporters
SPRINGFIELD — The Democrats who run state government forged an estimated $35 billion spending plan Tuesday that would keep education funding flat, pay for promised state worker raises and cut programs for seniors.
As the state budget headed toward approval despite Republican objections, Democrats also sent Gov. Pat Quinn a major expansionof the Medicaid program that would allow more than 340,000 low-income, childless adults to get health care under President Barack Obama’s signature initiative, even as GOP lawmakers questioned the financial impact.
Movement on the spending plan and health care represented rare agreement among Democrats in the House and Senate who remain deadlocked on high-profile issues including pension reform, concealed carry of guns and gay marriage with three days to adjournment. Even the governor is on board, a far cry from previous budget showdowns in which he used his veto pen to rewrite portions of the budgets lawmakers sent him.
Agreement on a budget was eased when state income tax collections exceeded expectations last month. That money was used to avoid planned larger cuts in human service programs.
“There’s still going to be some tough decisions, but it sure makes it easier,” said House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, top deputy to Speaker Michael Madigan. “We’re really talking about, as we say in the trade, a nice chunk of change.”
But Republicans decried the Democratic proposal, contending it doesn’t go far enough to reduce the state’s multibillion-dollar backlog of overdue bills. Listing a litany of unaccomplished budget goals, Republicans said they saw no need to vote for a new plan in which they had little input.
“We are not going to sit here and support bills on the budget side, the budget implementation bills, that increase spending by almost $2 billion when you have $7.5 billion of unpaid bills,” said House GOP leader Tom Cross of Oswego. Other Republicans warned that overspending would require an extension of the state’s 67 percent personal income tax rate hike, which is supposed to start to expire in 2015.
Under the spending plan, general state aid for elementary and high schools would see a slight bump over last year, with $4.44 billion set aside for payments to schools, according to a legislative analysis. The funding represents only 89 percent of the foundation level the state sets as a minimum for each student. The figure is even with the current fiscal year, though it had been trimmed back in previous years.
But the budget blueprint also would slash roughly $5 million from special education programs compared with the current year.
Quinn’s original budget proposed cutting education spending by $300 million, using schools to illustrate the squeeze state government faces because of continued legislative inaction on burgeoning payments into the state’s public employee pension system.
The state Department of Corrections would see a near 8 percent increase in operation funding from the current year, gaining an extra $86.8 million to push its state-funded costs to $1.2 billion. Despite the closure of some prison facilities, corrections workers have amassed large amounts of overtime.
The Illinois State Police would take a 1 percent cut in operations, but also get $2.6 million to administer new legislation allowing the carrying of firearms in public through fees assessed to applicants. Lawmakers, however, have yet to agree on a final version of a concealed carry bill.
Higher education funding would stay at about $2 billion after years of cuts. Nearly $2 million more would be available for need-based grants under the state’s Monetary Award Program.
One major issue that appears headed toward resolution between lawmakers and Quinn was the issue of back pay for members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees for the current and previous budget years.
The $140 million was part of the union’s lengthy and often confrontational bargaining with the Quinn administration over a new contract.
But if union workers are to get contractually mandated raises in the upcoming budget year, state agencies will have to carefully manage the money they get.
While the spending plan would maintain community mental health, substance abuse and homeless prevention services, the Department of Human Services budget would be decreased $92.6 million — a 2.5 percent cut in operations and 1 percent cut in grants. The Department of Children and Family Services would see a $36 million cut in operations while the Department on Aging budget was reduced by $70 million, according to a legislative analysis.
State pension funding would grow to $5.9 billion from $5.1 billion. House and Senate Democrats remain divided over how to reduce a pension debt approaching $100 billion and free up tax dollars for other operations.
“Will we have a (pension) bill on the governor’s desk? That’s anybody’s guess,” Cross said.
In other budget developments, House Democrats approved an $844 million supplemental spending measure, largely to cover bills through the June 30 end of the budget year. Supporters said the measure would fund the payroll of state prison workers and allow the state to capture federal money and pay down past-due bills.
Republicans voted against the additional spending, saying Democrats are failing to live up to promises made last year to cut waste and social service programs.
Quinn, joined by fellow Democrats including Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, also hailed the final passage of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” despite Republican complaints that promised federal reimbursements eventually would be eliminated.
“All people deserve access to decent health care,” Quinn said in a statement. “This bill will not only expand access to health care for the uninsured, it will also strengthen our efforts to transform Illinois’ health care sector into a wellness system that focuses on preventive services and provides better quality treatment when people do become sick.”
Preckwinkle said she expected the Medicaid expansion would make health care available to an estimated 250,000 impoverished childless adults in Cook County alone.
The federal government would reimburse the state at 100 percent for three years and the reimbursement would phase down to 90 percent in 2020.
But U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the Janesville, Wis., Republican who chairs the federal House Budget Committee, told the Tribune editorial board last month that “the fastest thing that’s going to go when we’re cutting spending in Washington is a 100 or 90 percent match rate for Medicaid,” regardless of whether Republicans or Democrats control Congress.
State Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine, echoed national Republican concerns over the reimbursement, saying it could cost as much as $3 billion.
“It’s too big, too unaffordable, we have a quarter of the state on Medicaid already, you’re going to put several hundred thousand people more on it and continue and escalate that path to bankruptcy,” Murphy told senators. firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Twitter @moniquegarcia
E. JASON WAMBSGANS/TRIBUNE PHOTOS
Rep. Fred Crespo, D-Streamwood, third from left, speaks Tuesday on the House floor as lawmakers discuss budget issues. A budget blueprint has the backing of Democrats in the House and Senate.
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