Heading over to the Capitol for our press conference and rally. We are expecting over
300 people in the Capitol today calling for inclusive community services. It is going to be
a very good day. Check out our Facebook page for updates.
It appears that Developmental Disability services have been spared of any cuts of the
2.25% including early intervention (which restores the $23 million cut) in the new budget
proposal introduced by Speaker Madigan on Tuesday. As I look at the bill that appears
to be the case but many of the people I rely upon for analysis of the budget, are
uncertain as I write this and want more time to review this bill before public comment.
I think developmental disability services including grants such as respite care are okay
with this proposal. The question remains, what about grant suspensions and what is in
store for FY 2016?
Gov. Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders appear on track to resolve an immediate
$1.6 billion deficit and avoid running out of money for prison guards and day care
programs, though there’s no guarantee the rare show of bipartisan cooperation will
hold up when the stakes get higher over a new budget in just a few weeks.
The fast-moving, short-term budget fix also put on public display the new political
dynamic at the Capitol.
Unions win round over Rauner in fee lawsuitFor more than a decade, Democrats
controlled the legislature and the governor’s mansion, soRepublicans were able to vote
against budget measures without political repercussions while Democrats had to take
tough votes. On Tuesday, Republicans in the House had to do much of the heavy
lifting to support their rookie Republican governor, and Democrats had more political
freedom to vote no.
That equation added up to the House giving speedy approval to a plan that aims to
plug the shortfall in the budget approved last May. The breakthrough followed weeks
of inaction amid posturing between Rauner and Democratic Senate President John
Under the plan sponsored by Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan,
approximately $1.3 billion would be taken from balances in special funds designated
for uses such as road construction or fire prevention. Another $300 million would come
from cutting spending by 2.25 percent in most other areas of state government for the
last three months of the current budget year. While pension payments and health care
for the poor are largely protected, schools stand to lose an estimated $150 million
through the end of June.
The compromise gets Rauner some of what he wanted — a fix without borrowing or
raising taxes, though he did not get the sweeping powers to move money around and
make cuts that he had sought. And Democrats get to avoid deeper cuts by spending
more money in the current budget.
The measure passed the House 69-48, with 46 of the 47 Republicans voting in favor of
putting their party’s governor on path to a victory.
“We are here today to be the adults in the building,” said House Republican leader Jim
Durkin of Western Springs, who implored Democrats to afford Rauner a courtesy as he
tries to manage a flawed budget Democrats put in place last year under then-
Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn
House Democrats introduce plan to plug budget holeDespite that plea, the legislation
received minimal support from House Democrats, who no longer have to solely shoulder
the burden of rounding up votes with a Republican governor in office. And the budget fix
is expected to be received with even less enthusiasm in the Senate, where members
tend to be more liberal.
Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon said the Senate president was encouraged by
a pot of money Rauner could use to help school districts hit hard by proposed cuts in the
middle of the school year as well as efforts to protect money flowing into cities and
counties. But she cautioned “we still have some work to do as far as vote-counting.”
That likely means Senate Republicans will be looked at to put up the majority of the “yes”
votes, much like their House counterparts did Tuesday.
Leader Radogno clearly recognizes we have to clean up the mess that was left behind by
Gov. Quinn, and she will be working to secure as many votes as possible,” said Patty
Schuh, spokeswoman for Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno of Lemont. “We
recognize it’s a one-time, emergency solution.”
The measure is scheduled to be voted on by the full Senate on Thursday, as lawmakers
seek to deal with the short-term budget shortfall this week before they go home for spring
When they come back in mid-April, attention will turn to coming up with a plan for the
budget year that begins July 1. Rauner has proposed deep cuts in the face of what he
estimates is a $7 billion shortage, and the stage is set for a tough battle with Democrats
who favor tax increases to help protect government services.
“I have a problem having a conversation about cuts before we also have a conversation
about revenue,” said Rep. Christian Mitchell, D-Chicago, who voted against the budget
Speaker Madigan, who also leads the state Democratic Party, conceded the bill was not
perfect but was designed to limit spending cuts in favor of tapping into special funds.
“This is not a perfect bill, it’s not a perfect solution,” Madigan said. “Some might say it’s
not pretty, but it responds to the governor’s request, it responds to the problem.”
Among the funds taking the biggest hit are several dedicated to road construction, which
stand to lose a combined $350 million. Rauner had decried road fund diversions while on
the campaign trail. Trade unions warned Tuesday against taking the money, saying the
Illinois Department of Transportation can barely keep up with infrastructure needs as it is.
“The legislature cannot, therefore, take money from the Road Fund without compromising
IDOT’s ability to maintain Illinois’ vital transportation network,” members of the Laborers’
International Union of North America wrote in a letter to lawmakers. “Projects — and the
jobs they create — will be dropped either now or in years to come as a result of a Road
Another $130 million would be raided from funds earmarked for transit, along with $23
million dedicated to fire prevention. Meanwhile, hospitals agreed to pay higher
assessments to the state to the tune of $27 million to avoid deeper cuts to reimbursement
rates, a move that could net the state an additional $27 million in federal matching dollars.
“This is what we are doing to step up to help the state,” said Danny Chun, spokesman for
the Illinois Hospital Association.
Rauner would be given discretion to use a $97 million pot of money to help school districts
that might be harmed by the cuts that come in the middle of the school year. He’ll also
have access to another $90 million to help plug unforeseen budget problems that might
As a result of the deal, $226 million will be funneled into a subsidized child care program
for the poor that was running out of money. Another $117 million will be freed up to meet
payroll at Illinois prisons, and an additional $27 million will be available for grants to
provide mental health services. Programs that provide care for those with developmental
disabilities would see an infusion of $14 million, and another $34 million will be available to
pay workers who care for the elderly and disabled.
Advocates for the subsidized day care program praised the agreement but expressed
concern that the spending cuts that accompany the measure are an early sign of deeper
pain to come in the next budget year.
“We are certainly grateful for the salvation of the state’s child care assistance program,
and that literally is what this is,” said Maria Whelan, president and CEO of Illinois Action
for Children, which administers the day care subsidy program in Cook County.
But Whelan said service providers must also adjust their budgets to reflect the 2.25
percent cut, which she said is more severe than it seems because it is spread over three
months instead of a year.
“For many contracts, commitments are made,” Whelan said. “It’s the last three months of
organizations’ and providers’ year, and their ability to find that, I think that’s going to be a
Tony Paulauski Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423