Tuesday, June 30, 2009
State budget mess leaves plenty of questions
By John Patterson Daily Herald Staff
Published: 6/29/2009 12:03 AM
SPRINGFIELD - With lawmakers returning to the Capitol today to take another crack at balancing the state's budget, the Daily Herald seeks to answer some of the basic questions behind the current situation.
Q. What's going on with the Illinois budget?
A. Good question, because no one seems to know. With time running out on the current budget, there seems to be little urgency from elected officials to fix the problem. The new state budget year starts July 1.
Q. What happens if there's no budget on July 1?
A. In theory, there's no authority to spend money on anything, though the state will continue to collect your tax dollars.
Q. Have lawmakers considered a budget for the new year?
A. Yes. They've approved one. But it only has enough money for about six months and leaves it to Gov. Pat Quinn to make it work. So far, however, they've not yet actually sent that plan to the governor's office for approval.
Q. What would that budget do?
A. It would eliminate funding for numerous not-for-profit human service providers who provide therapy and care for the disabled, addicted, poor and elderly on behalf of the state. For instance, Des Plaines-based Lutheran Social Services said it would have to turn away nearly 10,000 people who get care through its programs across the state.
Q. What would Quinn do?
A. He doesn't support that budget and said he will not allow such cuts to happen. "I was always opposed to that," Quinn told reporters.
Q. So who told the groups they'd lose funding?
A. Quinn. He said he had a legal responsibility to do it when lawmakers rejected a budget-balancing tax increase last month, even though he now says he won't make those cuts.
Q. Does this all have to be solved by July 1?
A. Not really, but it needs to be resolved soon.
"You can go about 10 days, 15 days overtime and everything doesn't come completely unhinged. You go past that and it gets real dicey," said former Republican Gov. Jim Edgar, who had his own overtime budget fights with lawmakers.
Q. When was this supposed to be done?
A. The Illinois Constitution was changed in the 1994 to set a May 31 deadline in order to avoid budget fights backing up to the start of the budget year. But in recent years that deadline has routinely been blown.
Q. What happens when the budget deadline is missed?
A. Approving a budget requires additional votes. Before May 31, approval is a simple majority: 60 votes in the 118-member House, 30 votes in the 59-member Senate. On June 1, approval requires a 3/5ths majority: 71 votes in the House and 36 votes in the Senate.
Q. What does that mean politically?
A. It means in the House, the Republicans will be needed to approve any budget deal even if every Democratic member goes along with it, which probably won't happen. There are 70 Democrats and 48 Republicans in the House. In the Senate, there are 37 Democrats and 22 Republicans.
Q. Any other political factors?
A. Elections are just around the corner. Candidates can start circulating petitions for office in August and the last day to get on the 2010 primary ballot for major party candidates is in November. In addition to governor and other statewide offices, all 118 Illinois House seats and 21 of the 59 state Senate seats are up next year. One theory is lawmakers might be more open to tax increases after they see whether anyone is going to run against them in the February primary.
Q. How big is the deficit?
A. According to lawmakers' own budget office, $11.6 billion. However, the current budget was never fully balanced and began with an $835 million shortfall. So the total deficit is $12.4 billion. Yet in recent days, that number has varied, usually to a lower figure, suggesting lawmakers may use some new accounting to come up with a new deficit that'd be easier to fix.
Q. What are the proposed fixes?
A. In May, the Senate approved raising the personal income tax to 5 percent from 3 percent, the corporate income tax to 5 percent from 4.8 percent and begin applying the sales tax to a litany of items and services currently not taxed to come up with $5.6 billion a year. Combined with billions in federal stimulus money, the plan would go a long way toward wiping out the deficit, though at least $2 billion more would need to be cut.
The House considered but rejected a smaller, two-year income tax increase proposed by Gov. Quinn that contained no sales tax hike. The Senate tax plan was never voted on but clearly doesn't have support in the House.
Q. Didn't they already raise some taxes?
A. Yes. The House and Senate voted to increase alcohol taxes and vehicle fees. But that money would be used to finance road, bridge and school construction among other projects. That money's not for the budget.
Q. Anything new being talked about other than taxes?
A. There's a plan being put together to borrow nearly $2 billion to make the required pension payment and then pay it back over the next few years. It's attractive to lawmakers because it reduces the amount of money they need to come up with to balance the budget; and the interest rate is likely to be far less than if the state just skipped the payment, so it doesn't make the pension system's poor fiscal state any worse.
Q. What about cuts?
A. Republicans, and many Democrats, contend not enough has been cut to even talk about tax increases. Even Republican leaders say the state can't cut its way out of this mess, but they want "fundamental" changes to government before they put any votes on Democrats' tax plans.
Q. What do you mean the state can't cut its way out of this?
A. Running the state - everything from prisons to police to school funding - costs roughly $30 billion a year. The total deficit is more than one third of that. For perspective, every state employee could be laid off and the total savings would be roughly $4 billion. Of note, once construction spending and other state expenses are added in, the total state budget is about $60 billion.
Q. What are some of the changes Republicans want?
A. GOP members have pressed for changing state pension systems to require future state, university and public school employees to work more years and pay more of their income toward reduced pension benefits. The state constitution forbids changing benefits for anyone currently in a state pension system, so changes would only apply to those hired after the changes would be made.
Republicans also are pressing for expanded managed care use in Medicaid.
Q. What about gambling expansion?
A. Added casinos and slot machines at Arlington Park and other tracks have been proposed but House Speaker Michael Madigan has said he doesn't see it as a viable solution.
Q. How about state layoffs and furloughs?
A. Gov. Quinn raised the possibility of a dozen furlough days for state workers. However, that'd have to be voluntary or negotiated with the employees' union. If Quinn wants to lay off anyone in the employees' union, he must provide 30 days notice and so far he hasn't.
Q. What are the chances of this being fixed soon?
A. That's a good question since no one, not even the state's leaders, seems to know. Knowing of this impending budget disaster, Quinn ordered lawmakers back to the Capitol last week. They left after two days without taking a vote on any budget cuts or moneymakers. The House returns today, the Senate tomorrow.
Asked what's going to happen, Quinn said: "We'll have to roll up our sleeves."
Monday, June 29, 2009
Terry Bibo's article in the Peoria Journal-Star on Sunday points out that even when funds are allotted to those in need, the money is often poorly spent.
And this editorial, "Our View: Illinois kicks disabled out of wheelchairs - again" also from Sunday's Peoria Journal-Star, expresses advocates' outrage at legislators using their citizens as pawns in their politicking. An excerpt is included below:
"....we are nothing short of livid when we read, as we did in the Chicago Tribune last week, that many legislators would prefer not to vote on any tax hike until they think it's safe to do so - after the Nov. 2 filing deadline, when they'll know whether they have a primary challenge next year. The self-preservation crowd can do us all a favor and resign now. They are walking and talking advertisements for term limits.
Our mood does not improve when we read in this newspaper about Rep. Jehan Gordon passing the buck for these cuts to Republicans and the governor, as if she as a legislator in the dominant party has no responsibility at all. Make no mistake, this meltdown rests at the feet of majority Democrats, so far. Yes, Gordon is young and a rookie, but comments like those are no way to earn an endorsement....(read more)."
Last week, Governor Quinn ordered DHS Secretary Carol Adams to proceed with the implementation of the draconian budget cuts. When agencies asked how to deal with the thousands of people who will be displaced by these cuts, the Secretary had no response.
With 2 days left, the only course of action now is to urge Governor Quinn to rescind his order to Secretary Adams.
Please call, e-mail and fax the following message to Governor Quinn's Chief of Staff Jerome Stermer using the contact information below:
Jerome Stermer's Phone Number Chicago: 312-814-2121
Phone Number Governor Quinn's Office: 312-814-5220
Fax Number Chicago: 312-814-4794
Fax Number Springfield: 217-524-4049
"Please tell Governor Pat Quinn that he has the authority to direct the Department of Human Services to issue continuation contracts with human service agencies to begin July 1, 2009 while he and the legislature continue budget discussions. The Governor does not have to decree that the cost-cutting contained in the “Doomsday” budget start immediately.
Please tell Governor Pat Quinn that he has other choices than to direct Secretary Adams to cut services effective July 1, 2009. People with disabilities are counting on you to get this message to the governor. We are counting on the governor to do the right thing and order Secretary Adams to issue continuation contracts."
Friday, June 26, 2009
"Every year, it's the social service agencies who are left out on that limb, never sure they'll get enough money to keep doing their very difficult jobs. In the end, we suspect, Doomsday will be averted once again. But it's unforgivable that the sick, impoverished and disabled are held hostage year after year after year -- and it's especially disappointing that it was Quinn who played the card this time.
The nice-guy governor probably thought he had set the stakes unacceptably high by promising drastic cuts to programs for orphans and elders. The truth is, it's a pretty safe group to pick on. Politicians don't lie awake worrying that the social services lobby will run them out of office."
Meanwhile, two Chicago White Sox speak out against the impending budget cuts.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Representative Greg Harris today issued the following statement regarding the budget cuts:
Rep. Greg Harris - 13th District
Springfield Update - June 25, 2009
Session this week began with encouraging signs that solutions (even temporary ones) for the State's financial crisis could be near. It didn't take long for the wheels to totally come off the wagon, and now we are in even a more uncertain situation. To recap, the House and Senate passed bills to sweep excess special funds and authorize refinancing of state debt (HB2400 and SB1433) to alleviate some of the revenue shortfall in the FY10 budget. This would have allowed just under $1 billion in new funds to be applied to SB1197 which funds all the State's distributive grants (e.g. human services, MAP, etc.)
This week the House considered SB415 which would have authorized Pension Obligation Notes and allowed asset smoothing to be used as an accounting tool by the various pension funds. The immediate effect for FY10 is that it would have allowed for full funding of the FY10 pension payment (as opposed to the partial payment in the Governor's introduced budget) and freed up approximately $2.2 billion for the FY10 operating budget.
The problems began when Governor Quinn came to the House Democratic caucus to talk about the budget scenario and his proposed budget plans. It soon became obvious that the Governor's staff did not have written materials with details of his proposals so we could analyze the impact of these funds on the deficit, but also that the Governor's budget staff estimates and the legislative budget staff estimates did not jive, nor did the Governor have a definitive plan that explained his plans for allocating the additional $3.2 billion dollars that members could review.
In addition, as I am sure you may have seen in the media, estimates of the overall budget deficit have fluctuated dramatically, as has the Governor's announced plans for layoffs, furlough days and human service cuts. All of this fed into an air of uncertainty about the fiscal position of the State, at a time where certainty (or at least a common understanding of conditions) is essential for going forward to construct effective budget solutions.
In no way do I mean to imply that there is any kind of intentional chicanery or fudging going on as numbers fluctuate. However, as legislators we have repeatedly asked for detailed budgetary analyses and documentation of assumptions used to come to certain projections so that we can make informed decisions about these incredibly important and complex financial situations. In any budget there are many assumptions made. (Such as assumptions about revenue growth, market timing, accrual of expenses, etc.) Whether we agree or disagree with the assumptions, we need to know what they are before we can decide if we can agree with the conclusions they support and then act accordingly.
The fact that not only do the Governor's conclusions continue to shift, we are not able to assess the assumptions that have led him to those conclusions.
Those of us who are willing to support a tax increase, especially, want to be sure that any increase be only the amount absolutely necessary to maintain the viability of our human service safety net, and that prior to requesting new revenues every budget has been tightly managed, cuts have been made to "tighten our belt", and that revenues are being directed solely to those programs where the human need is the greatest.
Right now, amidst this uncertainty, I and many others do not have that comfort. Over the next several days the Governor's staff has committed to providing detailed documentation outlining their proposed budget and all its components, along with assumptions used in arriving at those figures. Our caucus partisan staff will be reviewing their numbers as well.
Hopefully when we return to Springfield Monday we will have sufficient information to make informed decisions. If we do not have enough accurate information to make the best decisions possible, I hope that the Governor will consider using available revenue to continue to operate in the new fiscal year at FY09 levels until a real and comprehensive solution can be passed.
Find this and every update from Rep. Harris at http://gregharris.org/Updates.html
It’s evident that tax increase is necessary
Thank you for your excellent coverage of the financial plight that Springfield social service agencies are facing as the state budget goes unresolved. These agencies are a sample of thousands more — both public and private — across the state that are on the brink of shutting down some or all of their programs that provide needed services for our most vulnerable citizens. It is becoming more and more apparent that a tax increase is the only way to bring our state out of its horrible financial deficit that is threatening these programs. Expansion of gambling or leasing the lottery and the toll roads are merely Band-Aids that would do little in dealing with the huge deficit with which we are faced.
Illinois Human Services Coalition
The following satirical cartoon appeared in the State-Journal Register on the same day:
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
We are asking you to send the link to all of your colleagues, friends, family members, and anyone you can think of who wants to make sure funding for community services and supports for persons with developmental disabilities and mental illness.
IARF has a signature goal of 10,000.
Sign the petition here.
We appreciate his concern for the impact that these budget cuts will have on human services.
Please click here to view the entire letter from Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes to Governor Pat Quinn.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
State revenues cannot meet the cost of existing human services, education, and pension obligations. The reality is that the current revenue system does not keep pace with existing costs, adjusting solely for population growth and inflation over time. This revenue gap or “structural deficit” is reflected every year as state government cuts programs, reduces staff, raids other funds, defers payments to healthcare providers and borrows against the state pensions to balance the budget as required by the state constitution. In short, Illinois is not generating enough revenue to meet existing obligations. The real cause of the state’s budget deficits is not overspending. Despite, having the fifth largest population of any state in the nation, Illinois ranks 45th in spending on services.
The state’s tax system, initially designed in the 1930s, is outdated and does not grow with the modern economy as a result, Illinois generates less revenue than needed to maintain current public service levels, adequately and fairly fund education, and make its required pension payments from year to year.
SOLUTION: Illinois needs a comprehensive package of fiscal solutions.
- Policymakers can fix the state’s broken fiscal system. Illinois must modernize the state tax system in order to raise enough money to pay its bills – this requires a comprehensive package of fiscal solutions. HB 174 raises approximately $7 billion in new revenues while modernizing the state’s tax system and making it fairer; doubles the state income tax credit Illinois homeowners receive for property taxes paid on their principal residence; increases the corporate income tax rate from 4.8% to 5%; and makes meaningful new investments in education.
- Illinois must close the structural deficit. To attain sound financial footing and fund needed public services into the future, Illinois must close this budget hole with new revenue. The state currently has a deficit of $9.2 billion, while the General Fund is projected to be around $30 billion. Cutting spending on essential services such as education, healthcare and human services by up to 30% not only makes no sense, it would devastate communities across Illinois, while lengthening the recession.
- Illinois must reform education funding. Illinois has the most unfair school funding system in the nation, where spending differences per student can be as high as $19,000 between districts. HB 174 would significantly reduce these funding discrepancies by devoting 33 1/3% of all new revenues to the Common School Fund that provides general state aide to K-12 education, particularly in low and middle income communities across the state. HB 174 reduces reliance on property taxes to fund schools by doubling the Illinois residential property tax credit.
- Illinois must adequately fund human services. Despite growing demand for public services, spending on human services decreased by $387 million, or 10%, between 2001 and 2004, after adjusting for inflation. Without comprehensive fiscal reform, human services funding will continue to decrease and Illinois working families will suffer. In fact, if Illinois balanced its budget by cutting $9 billion in spending, the state would lose over 128,000 jobs and increase its unemployment rate to over 11% (state unemployment stands at 10% as of June 18, 2009.)
For more information, please see the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability’s Moving Forward: To Counter the Current Recession, Illinois State Government Should Maintain or Enhance Spending - Even if it Means Progressive Tax Increases - Rather Than Cut its Budget, March 2009 report on the website at www.ctbaonline.org.
HB 174 Fiscal Solutions Package
- Mandates a significant increase in the annual appropriation for grants to institutions of Higher Education, that is community colleges through public universities. Funds education accountability reforms.
- Maintains and expands grants for high-poverty schools.
- Funds teacher and principal mentoring programs.
- Provides funding for science, math and technology programs.
- Increases the personal income tax rate from 3% to 5%.
- Increases the corporate income tax rate from 4.8% to 5%.
- Expands the sales tax base to cover 39 different consumer services that are already taxed by Illinois' neighbor states.
- Triples the state's Earned Income Tax Credit, providing tax relief to low income, working families.
- Doubles the residential property tax credit homeowners can claim against their state income tax bill from 5% to 10%.
- Provides meaningful support to local governments by fully funding the Local Government Distributive Fund, reducing the pressure on skyrocketing property taxes.
The Illinois State Senate approved a revenue plan that would have funded the state’s critical human needs, addressed its long-term structural deficit, and provided some relief from regressive taxation.
On May 31, 2009, HB 174 was passed in the Senate 31-27-1.
HB 174 was never called to a vote by the House before the legislature adjourned.
For More Information: Ralph M. Martire, Executive Director Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (312) 332-1049; firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.ctbaonline.org/
Nicholas Johnson, Andrew Nicholas and Steven Pennington say, "By raising taxes, states can help ensure that those families and individuals hurt most by the recession do not face even more difficulties because of cuts in government programs and services they need, including those involving assistance with housing and health care, or access to higher education. Unfortunately, many of the spending cuts that states have enacted or are considering would have the most harmful impact on low- and moderate-income families and others hit hard by the recession. Tax increases can avert such cuts."
In addition, the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability has issued a fact sheet that explains House Bill 174. Information to be posted later today.
Monday, June 22, 2009
AARP has set up the Illinois State Budget Hotline, toll-free at 1-888-616-3322, to connect the public directly to their legislators on this issue. According to a Marketwire press release on June 16th, AARP opposes the following cuts, specificially:
- Community Care Program slated to cut by more than half, leaving over 20,000 without the services they need to remain in their communities, subjecting them to more costly institutional care, such as nursing homes.
- Closing all four Illinois veterans' homes -- leaving over 1,000 veterans without health care and other services.
- Circuit Breaker program cut by 50% -- which helps over 270,000 older Illinoisans struggling with high Rx costs and property taxes.
- Slashing funding for the investigation of neglect and abuse in nursing homes.
- Cutting home services for the disabled -- leaving over 5,000 people with no community access to the programs that help them remain independent.
- The state cannot completely cut or tax its way out of this mess in a one year budget cycle.
- An income tax increase can't pass without some GOP support in the House as any measure would need 71 votes to pass in the House. Senate President Cullerton’s spokeswoman, Rikeesha Phelon, said the Senate President doesn’t have commitments from all 37 Senate Democrats on a tax increase.
- According to figures released by the Governor’s office: 175,000 people will lose community mental health services, dramatically increasing homelessness, institutionalization and incarceration rates.65,000 people with alcohol and substance addictions will lose treatment.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Mary Schmich's article in the Chicago Tribune covers yesterday's protest rally at the Thompson Center and points out the devastating affects of the budget cuts on all citizens in Illinois.
A clever cartoon recently posted in the State Journal Register in Springfield illustrates the potential consequences of the budget cuts. Sadly, the story it tells is not far from the truth.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Here's what reporters and concerned citizens have to say about the matter:
Phil Kadner's recent article and Maura Possley's recent article, both in the Southtown Star, elaborate on taxes and civic duty to those who are most in need.
In Ellen Garber Bronfield's letter to the Chicago Tribune, she expresses her opinion on the budget cuts as a parent of a child with a disability.
Please take action by not only contacting your elected officials, but also your religious and civic leaders. Let them know that, if legislators will not, we must come together to provide services to our citizens.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Unfortunately, we are going to have to raise taxes in order to help some of the most vulnerable populations in Illinois.
Please contact your state senators and representatives and tell them that you support a tax hike.
State Department: Department of Children and Family Services
Total Cuts in Dollars and Programs:
Forced to Cut $460 Million
- Child advocacy centers for abused children.
- Adoptive and guardian care payments
- Foster care payments
- Services for youth with disabilities
- Triple foster care caseloads
- Adoptive preservation
- Foster care respite and support
Number of Individuals Losing Services:
Number of State Jobs Lost by Cut:
State Deparment: Department of Human Services
Total Cuts in Dollars and Programs:
Forced to Cut $1 Billion
- Child care assistance
- Cutting rates to providers by 40%
- Eliminating programs for autism, respite and family assistance, home-based supports, children’s residential and group home services
- Ending addiction treatment for 20,800 adolescents and adults
- Cut community mental health programs
- Cut funding for health programs by 75%, including Teen REACH, Healthy Families, and
- Domestic Violence
- Closing 6 of 9 State-operated psychiatric hospitals and 4 of 9 State-operated developmental centers
- Closing 42 of 120 DHS Family and Community Resource Centers
- Closing Illinois School for the Deaf, Illinois School for the Visually Impaired and Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education
Number of Individuals Losing Services:
Number of State Jobs Lost by Cuts:
State Department: Illinois Student Assistance Commission
Total Cuts in Dollars and Programs:
Forced to Cut $275 Million
- Reduced MAP scholarship awards by 75% for 145,000 low-income students
50% cut to book stipends for 2,500 low-income first-time students
- Elimination of Minority Teachers of Illinois Scholarship Program for 580 students
- Elimination of Future Teacher/Golden Apple Scholarships for 900 students
Number of Individuals Losing Services:
Number of State Jobs Lost by Cuts:
State Department: Department on Aging
Total Cuts in Dollars and Programs:
Forced to Cut $388 Million
- Elimination of all community care program services for 20,000 lower-income seniors who are not eligible for Medicaid and reducing benefits to 55 percent for the remaining 35,000 Medicaid-eligible clients
- Reduced case management for 55,000 frail seniors
- 50% circuit breaker cuts which provide property tax relief to seniors and people with disabilities
Number of Individuals Losing Services:
Number of State Jobs Lost by Cuts:
State Department: Department of Public Health
Total Cuts in Dollars and Programs:
Forced to Cut $61 Million
- 50% cut to the number of women receiving breast and cervical cancer screening and treatment
- Eliminating vaccines for Children Plus program
- Eliminating grants to local health departments for food, water, sewage and infectious disease services
- Eliminating grants to Poison Control Center hotline
- Eliminating Community Health Center Expansion sustaining funds
- Eliminating grants to grants to 11 regional centers for services to high-risk newborns
- Elimination of vision and hearing screening grants for 100,000 schoolchildren
- Elimination of prostate cancer outreach, education and screening for 75,000 men
- Elimination of HIV/AIDS education and testing to more than 300,000 youth and adults
- Elimination of Juvenile Diabetes Research GrantLay-offs of 64 state workers who investigate abuse and neglect
- Lay-offs of 40 state workers who monitor and regulate water quality at public pools, beaches, youth camps and wells
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Governor Quinn has suggested that legislators reconvene in Springfield to pass an income tax hike.
However, the Sun Times today published an article explaining that legislators may be hesitant to reconvene to work on the budget as they have been invited on a junket to Turkey at the end of June.
Please continue to contact your legislators and make your voice heard.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Here’s an idea of what the tax increase will cost you:
If you made $50,000 last year in income you will pay approximately $375/year more in State income tax based on the effective rate with a 1% increase, after the federal income tax deduction. With a $1.5% increase in the Illinois personal income tax rate, you would pay an additional $563/year.
It’s a small price to pay to avoid stopping services to hundreds of thousands of people in the state who need them. And it’s a small price to pay when the alternative is to lay off over 100,000 workers who care for these individuals. The combination of unmet needs and less payroll tax going into the system will put this state in even worse condition than it already is in.
Demand pension reform and support a tax increase.
1. Go to Congress.org and enter your zip code into the "My Elected Officials" box on the left hand side of the page. This will pull up all your state and federal elected officials and will link you to their contact info. For some officials you can submit your comments via a web form. For others, you will be directed to their individual websites.
2. Go to the Illinois State Board of Elections site and search by your street address. This will give you a list of your elected officials and their phone and fax numbers.
3. Once you have your list of legislators, you can go to The Voice of Illinois Consumers site to access each person's e-mail address.
What message should you communicate to your elected officials?
You can copy and paste the sample letter below or write your own message:
I am a voter in your district and I urge you to fight the proposed state cuts to human services which are scheduled to begin on July 1, 2009. These cuts will impact so many people that are greatly in need – battered women, adults and children with developmental disabilities and mental illness; victims of rape; at-risk youth. Slashing these programs will not save the state money and will ultimately cost all of us more in the long run. Thousands of people will lose their jobs thereby straining the state’s budget even more as income tax revenue is lost. More savings can be realized through the reform of the state’s pension system which is sorely overdue.
I realize that even a pension system reform and other state cuts cannot fully balance the budget. I ask that you vote for a tax increase ONLY if all human service programs are fully funded. We can do the right thing as a state for our most vulnerable citizens even if it means a little more expense for all of us.
Please VOTE YES for a tax increase.
The combined budget deficit for this year and next is at least $11.6 billion. While federal money and cuts will help, the state still faces a deficit of $7 billion. Without a tax increase, our state will be in even worse shape.
Social service agencies received notice last week that their budgets are being slashed.
In a letter dated June 12, 2009 from the Illinois Department of Human Services, human services providers were told the following:
"Due to the General Assembly’s failure to approve the revenue plan proposed by Governor Quinn, the State of Illinois, Department of Human Services, Division of Community
Health and Prevention will no longer be able to afford the following programs:
Grant Programs (funding terminates June 30, 2009):
Community Youth Services
Unified Delinquency Intervention Services
Communities For Youth
Release Upon Request
Teen REACH (Grants will be issued to GEARUP Providers)
Additionally, for the following Services, State General Revenue Funding (GRF) will
be reduced by up to 75%.
Substance Abuse Prevention
Healthy Families Illinois
All Our Kids Early Childhood Networks
Childhood Asthma Prevention
Teen Pregnancy Prevention
Coordinated School Health Education
Comprehensive Community Based Youth Services
Parents Too Soon
Parents Care and Share
Domestic Violence Prevention
School Health Centers
This means that developmentally disabled adults, battered women, at-risk youth, home bound elders among other vulnerable populations will lose many, and in some cases, all of their services. The effects on the citizens of Illinois will be devastating.
People who need these services will not go away. Their needs will just be addressed in more expensive ways. If these cuts stand, upwards of 100,000 jobs will be lost putting an even greater strain on the state budget. Federal dollars will be lost that are leveraged by state funding. The cuts will prove more costly in the long run than raising taxes.
No one wants a tax increase. We need one, though, to ensure that Illinois remains a strong state.
Do the right thing – tell your legislator to vote for a tax increase.
Friday, June 12, 2009
First and foremost we want to inform you of the facts:
It will cost Illinois more money in the long run if we don't support a tax increase now. Legislators have slashed funding to human services by 50%. This means that many agencies will have to close their doors as a result of the cuts. We cannot “cut” our way out of the budget crisis that the state faces. Taxes must be increased in order to support the entire infrastructure of the state.
Human services that support childcare, developmental disabilities, mental illness, domestic violence and homeless services among other important societal supports are being slashed. In two weeks, thousands of people who depend on the state of Illinois will be turned out of their homes, lose their jobs and be robbed of their dignity.
On average, a tax increase might cost you as little as $1 a day which is less than your morning cup of coffee.
Why should you care?
Cuts to Human Services will not save the state money, as a lack of services will create a social crisis which will have to be offset by other state systems and/or local government systems.
People who lose services will end up in hospital emergency rooms, courtrooms, jails, prisons and state institutions. These emergency services are much more expensive in dollars and in human costs than the services that will be cut to save money in the state budget.
Elimination of services will not only hurt people receiving services but will also have a multiplier effect of creating massive lay offs in the Social Service sector in Illinois. This will drive more demand for government services and yet reduce the state coffers as people cease paying income taxes and spend less money in their communities.
Imagine these effects magnified throughout the city and across the entire state. In the midst of a serious recession, the legislature would be setting off a job loss spiral that would mirror the crisis that is currently plaguing the auto industry.
What can you do?
Contact your legislators via snail mail, phone, fax or e-mail and urge them to reverse the budget cuts to human services in Illinois.
Please follow this blog on a daily basis for more information about how you can help.