Last night the press was briefed on the Governor’s proposed budget. I understand the Governor will proceed with the closing of the Murray Developmental Center but the closing of other state institutions will not be announced in his speech today. According to this Chicago Tribune story, Human Services will see an increase of about $700 million.The House and Senate have already lowered revenue income the Governor has built his budget upon setting the stage for further cuts!

I have meetings scheduled on the proposed budget today and there is a Human Services briefing at 2:00 this afternoon.

More to come…

One clarification I would like to make is that the information I sent you yesterday on the Going Home Rally in the Capitol, the registration material was for members of the Alliance. I know that many of our chapters support the Alliance so I included that in my email to you. Sorry for any confusion. We will be sending you more information on the Rally soon. For now please plan on attending and bring many advocates on Wednesday, April 10th!

Quinn’s budget to call for education cuts
By Monique Garcia and Ray Long
Tribune reporters
6:48 AM CST, March 6, 2013

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to call for spending nearly 3 percent less on education as he unveils a new budget proposal Wednesday, a move he blames squarely on the state’s increasing government worker pension costs.
The $278 million cut to elementary and high school funding would be at least the third straight significant annual reduction from state government to local school districts.
“When you have that tremendous amount of money that you have to put in the pension (system), something’s got to give,” Quinn said on the “John Kass in the Morning” radio show on WLS-AM 890. “And our education, classroom education is going to get cut. And I don’t like that, I think that’s not the right thing for us to do as a state. That’s why we need pension reform.”
The education cuts are necessary because the state’s annual pension payments — now more than $6billion a year — will divert money from other government operations, Quinn has said. The administration said the Democratic governor wants to maintain spending levels for early education and grant assistance programs for college, though the budget proposal also contains overall funding cuts to higher education.
Senior aides said Tuesday that the governor also has a plan to pay down a multibillion-dollar backlog of bills. They wouldn’t reveal details except to say that Quinn won’t attempt to borrow money, something he has tried before unsuccessfully. The comptroller’s office has estimated the unpaid bills at almost $10 billion. The financial disarray continues despite a major income tax increase in 2011 that has brought in $15 billion.
Quinn staff members said no new taxes or fees will be proposed in the budget. They did indicate, however, that the governor again will propose closing what he considers loopholes on businesses, which tend to consider such a move a tax increase.
Health care costs for union workers are expected to drop by about $900 million over three years under a tentative contract reached last week with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31. However, that deal also includes back pay and wage increases that total more than $330 million.
Even before Quinn unwraps his budget proposal Wednesday, House Democrats and Republicans on Tuesday placed limits on how much money would be available to spend.
House Speaker Michael Madigan gaveled through a measure that predicted the state would bring in $35.081 billion. It’s legislation that signals state government should spend no more than it brings in, though the state continues to do just that as unpaid bills pile up.
Quinn’s senior staff expect the state to collect more than $500 million more — about $35.6 billion — and they want to spend that amount.
“That’s too high,” said Rep. John Bradley, the Marion Democrat who chairs the House revenue panel. “I’m glad they finally settled on a number, but it’s too high.”
Madigan and House Republican leader Tom Cross of Oswego have followed this game plan the two previous years, choosing to go with their own more conservative estimates on revenues than use those of the Quinn administration.
“If the governor walks into this chamber … and proposes to spend more than $35.081 billion, then he puts himself at odds immediately with this chamber,” said Rep. David Harris, R-Arlington Heights.
Quinn budget chief Jerry Stermer said the governor wants to add more state police and prison guards to replace a growing number of retirees and to hold down overtime costs.
Spending on social services also would increase from $4.6 billion in the current budget to $5.3 billion in the new budget. Stermer said the extra money would be aimed at “ending gimmickry” that is now “kicking the cost” into other years.
A look at the state’s bottom line in the coming year illustrates the need for cuts: The House estimates the state will bring in $1.4 billion more in the next budget year, but expenses are expected to rise by $2 billion. Half of the added expenses are attributed to increased pension costs, with much of the rest going to health care for government workers and the poor.
Education cuts are unpopular with lawmakers. On Tuesday, Rep. Will Davis, D-Homewood, told colleagues during a debate that lawmakers should find ways to bring in more money.
Tribune reporter Rafael Guerrero contributed.
Twitter @moniquegarcia
Copyright © 2013 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC

Tony Paulauski
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The Arc of Illinois
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