“Rendezvous With Reality”

The Governor just completed his budget address to a joint session of the General Assembly.  To begin he said we were having a “rendezvous with reality”, and that this year’s budget “contains truths you might not want to hear.”  While he is right that we must face certain unpleasant truths and that there were many things in his presentation we did not want to hear, there was also much left unsaid.  Based on the budget presentation, our earlier briefing from top administration officials and House Research Staff analyses, here are some of the things that were left unsaid:


  • While the Governor acknowledged that the costs associated with pensions and Medicaid continue to be among the largest cost drivers, his budget did not present detailed solutions, but rather is leaving that to the House and Senate to determine solutions.
  • There does not appear to be any allowance for the outcome of the collective bargaining negotiations for organized labor, whose contracts expire on June 30.
  • The various proposed tax credits (veterans, children, natural gas) were not allowed for in the budget and would cost another $200-300 million
  • New spending (GRF)items stand out:
    • Early Childhood Education ($20 million),
    • MAP Grants ($50 million),
    • Community Care for the Aging ($62 million),
    • $195 million to DD Long Term Care to maintain payment cycle, an offsetting reduction in state operated facilities is not readily apparent
    • Neighborhood Initiatives ($24 million)
  • The following spending cuts(GRF)  stand out:
    • Holding the General State Aid to education at FY12 levels would reduce the per pupil Foundation Level from $6,119 to $5,823
    • Foster Homes, Adoption and Guardianship ($44 million)
    • Addiction Treatment for Medicaid Populations ($5 million)
    • Child Care ($17 million)
    • Youth Services ($1.6 million)
    • Mental Health Grants ($58 million)
    • Breast and Cervical Cancer ($3.3 million)
    • HIV/AIDS ($4 million)
    • 50% reduction in parole staff ($15 million)
    • Homeless Shelter and Housing ($4.7 million)


This above list is not meant to be comprehensive, nor is it the final word. These were among the recommendations to the General Assembly which must now craft the actual budget.


Also, not mentioned above were the many proposed closures of Corrections, Juvenile Justice, Mental Health and Developmental Disability facilities operated by the State.  Those closures, if authorized, would result in hundreds of millions of dollars of cost shifts (from institutions to community providers), job losses and client shifts to other facilities or community care. The ultimate net costs of those changes are also not year clear.


As the budget negotiations and discussions proceed, I will try to keep you informed of major developments.


In the meantime, you can see the Governor’s Budget Speech and the highlights provided by his staff here:  http://www.illinois.gov/PressReleases/ShowPressRelease.cfm?SubjectID=2&RecNum=10036


You can read the Governor’s entire proposed budget and related documents here: http://www.state.il.us/budget/


As always, I look forward to your comments and suggestions. I can be reached in Chicago at 773 348 3434, in Springfield at 217 782 3835 or greg@gregharris.org