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Quinn Set To Announce Major Cuts To Medicaid

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Gov. Pat Quinn speaks to reporters on Feb. 19, 2012, about his plan to ask many state agencies to cut their budgets by at least 9 percent when he presents annual budget address. (Credit: CBS)

Gov. Pat Quinn speaks to reporters on Feb. 19, 2012, about his plan to ask many state agencies to cut their budgets by at least 9 percent when he presents annual budget address. (Credit: CBS)

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Updated 02/20/12 – 6:12 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Gov. Pat Quinn said Monday that he plans to call for significant cuts to Medicaid funding as part of his effort to slash the state budget to spending levels lower than fiscal year 2008.

As CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports, the governor’s budget plan will call for across-the-board spending cuts and a lot more.

When Quinn presents his budget address in Springfield on Wednesday, he will ask all of the state’s constitutional officers and most state agencies to cut their budgets by at least 9 percent.

State department heads have agreed to those cuts, but the governor can’t really control what Illinois’ other elected statewide officials, such as the Secretary of State and State Treasurer, have planned for their own budgets.

But among the cuts Quinn has planned for the Illinois budget, sources said he is targeting a major, controversial prison for shutdown.

He said, in the past, governors and lawmakers have failed to address problems with the state’s pension and Medicaid systems, allowing costs to skyrocket.

“My job is the repairman. I’m here to resolve these difficulties, and move our state forward,” Quinn said Monday.

The governor said, in essence, that tough times will require tough measures. He said he won’t have any problem getting department heads to make the requested cuts and he hopes constitutional officers follow suit.

“It starts with the governor. We’re cutting our budget 9 percent or more. Our lieutenant governor’s doing the same, and we’re gonna be asking all the constitutional officers to follow that,” Quinn said.

Quinn’s proposed cuts will require closing prisons and mental health facilities.

In addition, Wednesday’s Budget address will propose cuts of $2.8 billion, or 20 percent in Medicaid spending; by reducing both payments to providers, and coverage for recipients. It would be a big hit to hospitals, pharmacies and doctors who are already owed countless millions from the state.

It will also call for a thorough review of the state’s tax code, which Quinn has said “has more loopholes than Swiss cheese.”

Sources said the governor will meet Tuesday with other elected statewide officials to lay out his proposed cuts and implore them to do the same.

Reaction on Monday was lukewarm, ranging from a spokesman for Democratic Secretary of State Jesse White saying, “We’ll do the best we can,” to Republican State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka’s non-committal, “I’m not even sure the request has been made.”

Topinka and the others also will be briefed on other cuts, including what sources said could be the closure of a major, controversial prison. That could only be the state’s half-filled supermax prison, Tamms Correctional Center, at the southernmost tip of Illinois.

Well-documented as the state’s least cost efficient prison, running Tamms costs $26 million dollars a year, with a capacity of 753 inmates, and a current population of only 408.

More details are expected to emerge Tuesday during a series of briefings for those elected officials and legislative leaders.

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