Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Chaos Reigns Supreme in Springfield; Lawmakers Lounge and Watch Baseball

Please take a look at Doug Finke's article, "Governor, leaders try to avoid chaos" published in The State Journal Register yesterday for an update on the chaos that is not, in fact, being avoided at all.

Meanwhile yesterday, while human services agencies are still unclear of their fate, law-makers rushed to conclude their meetings so that they could attend to a bigger priority: watching the All Star baseball game in St. Louis...

This is an excerpt from Charles Thomas' report for WLS yesterday...

"... dozens of members in both chambers wanted the sessions cut short [on Tuesday] so they could attend the Major League Baseball All Star Game 100 miles south [of Springfield] in St. Louis. No more work on the budget will be done until Wednesday morning, when the leaders return to the governor's office for yet another meeting. Then the House and Senate reconvene in the afternoon, when they might pass a budget."

Finally, we received this communication from the ARC of Illinois this morning detailing the state of things for human services in Illinois as of the morning of July 15th...

We have been talking to the Governor's office, Democrats and Republicans and the news is not good for us in the short term!

I have to tell you that it is really disturbing me that human services is being used to push for increased revenue when legislators should be doing this because it is the right thing to do!

Legislators are right now working on the Governor's proposed budget that will fund us at anywhere from 86% to 90%, depending upon who you are talking too! We expect the legislators to leave it up to the administration to determine what areas of the budget will be cut and this could take some time. New contracts would then be reissued.

Legislators are saying we will get what we need in the long term, but the short term leaves us out in the cold. The proposed budget does not address over $3 billion in backlogged bills!

The new revenue is based upon the state borrowing $3.5 billion, up from $2.2 billion last week.

We need legislators to be our leaders and restore all cuts to human services. We are already an under funded system that cannot afford further cuts. It sounds like the votes are there for this reduced budget. Then we will have to fight for months to restore a system that is already 51st in the nation!

If this is the case, Phil and I have recommended to the Coalition a few weeks ago that we then hold mass hearings across the state with legislators on the impact of these cuts on all of human services.

The Leaders meet with the Governor at 11:00 this morning and legislators go back into session at 1:00. Phil and some other advocates will meet with Senate President Cullerton this morning.

Tony Paulauski
The Arc of Illinois

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