process ends in continued pension raids, state overspending
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[MAY 4, 2006]
SPRINGFIELD -- After secret,
closed-door meetings between Chicago Democrats, state Rep. Bill
Mitchell, R-Forsyth, said Wednesday that he would oppose the
fiscal 2007 budget because it fails to cut spending and pay
backlogged bills to address needs of the state.
"It is a shame that more members of this legislative body were not
asked to contribute to the budget process," Mitchell said. "Chicago
Democrats met in secret to craft a new state budget that will do
nothing to address almost $2 billion in unpaid Medicaid debts or
replenish pensions that are being raided for the second year in a
Earlier this spring, Mitchell filed a bill to foster more
transparency on budget items.
House Bill 5248 requires budget bills to be posted on the
General Assembly's Web pages 72 hours before final passage.
The Democrats' proposed budget does the following:
systems for $1.1 billion in fiscal 2007, after $1.2 billion for
fiscal 2006 was raided in last year's budget. Between fiscal
2004 and fiscal 2008, the Democrats will short the pensions by
$3.5 billion, which will cost the taxpayers $38.5 billion to
Contributes to a
general obligation bond debt that has now tripled by 167
percent, from $7.6 billion to $20.3 billion. In the coming year,
taxpayers will have to pay $1.68 billion just to cover the debt
service on these bonds.
Ignores nearly $2
billion in unpaid Medicaid bills owed to hospitals, nursing
homes, pharmacists and others for services they have already
rendered. Many of the agencies wait more than six months to
receive payments, creating financial hardships and causing
closures for some struggling nursing homes.
dollars have been allocated to Chicago pork projects, while
pensions are shortchanged and Medicaid bills go unpaid.
[to top of second column]
"State debt has increased in the last three years more than in
the Thompson, Edgar and Ryan years combined," Mitchell said,
referring to former Illinois governors.
Although the $55 billion budget indicates the anticipation of
$900 million in new state revenues, Mitchell said those revenues
should not have been used to propose another $1.4 billion in new
spending for pet projects, when the state is not currently meeting
"Instead of putting more money into the hands of Democrats for
their pork projects, we could have been looking at ways to keep two
people from being cut from both the Department of Corrections
facilities in Decatur and the facility in Lincoln," Mitchell said.
"It is obvious we're not committed to creating a safer environment
for our state correctional workers or the communities they are
Recently, Mitchell held a press conference at an area prison,
citing the need for improved safety conditions in Illinois prisons
and correctional facilities. By cutting staff and removing key
positions from those facilities, the state is jeopardizing the
safety of prison inmates, other workers and residents who live near
[News release from
Rep. Bill Mitchell]