Illinois State Budget
More than three weeks ahead of the governor’s budget address, a government watchdog group has issued its own plan for bringing state finances back to good health.
The drop in revenue reflects an expected decrease in the state’s income tax. The temporary hike is scheduled to drop from its current 5 percent to 3.75 percent next January.
With a 2011 state income tax increase set to expire at the end of the calendar year, the governor and Illinois lawmakers are facing a huge drop in state revenue, which would affect many social service groups that rely on the state for funding.
Gov. Pat Quinn lost another round in his bid to block lawmakers’ paychecks until they send him a pension reform plan, when the Illinois Appellate Court denied his request to stop legislators from getting paid.
Seeking to pressure lawmakers into acting on comprehensive pension reform, Gov. Pat Quinn used his budgetary veto powers on Wednesday to suspend legislative salaries until they come up with a plan.
The Democrat-controlled Legislature began piecing together a new state budget Tuesday that avoids the steep cuts of recent years and also gave final approval to a historic expansion of Medicaid, as Republicans accused their colleagues across the aisle of having “an insatiable appetite to spend money we don’t have.”
Congress isn’t the only government body facing a “financial cliff.” Illinois lawmakers also are being warned about the state’s dire financial situation, which could get even worse if the federal government has to slash funding to the states.
Gov. Pat Quinn says the state’s Medicaid system is on the verge of collapse, and to save it, billions of dollars in spending must be cut. One service that could end on the chopping block is hospice care for the poor.
A conservative think tank has proposed an alternative state budget that would cut wages for state employees by 10 percent; require retired workers to pay for their own health care premiums; and force local school districts to fund teacher pensions, instead of the state.
Senator Mark Kirk says Illinois can forget about federal assistance if it goes to Congress saying it’s broke and needs a bailout. Kirk has released a report showing that Illinois state government is teetering on the edge of insolvency.
Gov. Pat Quinn said Thursday that he is moving to lay off more than 1,900 state employees and close seven state facilities , blaming Illinois lawmakers for sending him a budget that had $2.2 billion less in revenue than he wanted.
Illinois’ “Transitional Assistance” program has helped homeless, disabled and unemployed state residents for years, but now it’s gone away, a victim of the state’s budget shortfall.
A major labor union has asked an independent arbitrator to intervene in their dispute with Gov. Pat Quinn over his decision to cancel pay raises for some 30,000 state employees.
One way or another, the budget numbers have to come together in Springfield.
Illinois Senate Republicans have vowed to block any plans to borrow money to pay the state’s overdue bills.
It’s been said “follow the money.” Now, the state says it will make it easier for taxpayers to do that by posting online reports about how much government is taking in and spending.
Whichever candidate wins the gubernatorial race will inherit a major state budget mess, and tough choices about possible spending cuts, tax increases, or both.