NO SMILES: The Illinois Statehouse has been a den of bad news in 2014.
Public schools, universities, hospitals, doctors, nursing homes, public
health advocates and just about anybody else that receives state money
have all trudged to the statehouse to be publicly reminded that Illinois
will lose more than $1 billion if the 2011 "temporary" income tax
increases are allowed to expire.
"Should we end up having to cut $1.9 billion out of our revenue stream
this year ... that would mean every single program mentioned as being of
interest to (the Illinois Human Service committee) would have to be cut
in its entirety," state Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, cautioned lawmakers
It's not just that the state may take in less in tax dollars. Illinois
is also spending more.
Illinois' Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said the state has
committed to spending more than $1 billion on people who depend on
government or who work for government.
Cullerton, using figures from Gov. Pat Quinn's budget office, said next
year Medicaid spending will increase $669 million, Illinois' pension
payment will jump $214 million and personnel costs will rise $373
That's nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars more for people with
public health and more than a half a billion more for people who collect
a public paycheck.
"The Democrats' spending priorities are messed up," state Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, told Illinois Watchdog.
While public workers will get more, Illinois' public schools will likely
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The state board of education says 63 percent of Illinois schools
are in financial distress, and notes that 23 percent of schools have
just 100 days of cash on hand.
School officials have asked for $1 billion, but lawmakers have told
them the state doesn't have it.
The money is, instead, being spent on pay raises and the ever
increasing pension payments.
"That is backwards," Senate GOP Leader Christine Radogno said.
""(But) What the Democrats would like the taxpayers in the state to
believe is that ‘We can't do anything about that. Our hands are
tied.' That is nonsense."
Radogno said Democrats, from Quinn on down, are ignoring possible
budget cuts and spending reforms to pave the way for another tax
"Look at states around us that have made dramatic changes:
Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan. They are flourishing," Radogno said.
"They are creating jobs. They are attracting people back into their
states, whereas Illinois is losing people every single day of the year."
Illinois lawmakers have begun the process of figuring out how to
spend $34 billion dollars in the next state budget. That's $2
billion less than is being spent this year, and doesn't even begin
to approach Illinois' ever-growing stack of unpaid bills that total
about $6 billion.
Illinois is required to have a balanced budget ready for the
governor by June 1.
Contact Benjamin Yount at
Ben@IllinoisWatchdog.org and find him
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