CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today called upon the House of Representatives to pass revenues already approved by the Illinois Senate, warning that funding will be unavailable for $1.5 billion in spending if the Senate’s revenue package is not passed. Reductions as well as additional reserves would be required to close a $2 billion dollar shortfall in the Fiscal Year 2009 budget passed by the General Assembly in May.
“As I’ve said before, the budget sent to me fails to meet the Constitutional requirement that spending be matched by funding to pay for it, and it jeopardizes the State’s ability to meet core responsibilities like teaching our children, providing healthcare, and protecting the public,” Gov. Blagojevich said.
The Illinois House still has until July 9 to follow the Senate’s lead and approve sufficient revenue to pay for the spending included in their budget, Gov. Blagojevich said.
“If they don’t, I will not allow the people of the State to be pushed into uncertainty by putting off tough decisions until later in the year, or asking lawmakers to start from scratch at the last minute. Instead, I’ll use my constitutional authority to match spending to available funds. Reductions should not be made because they will mean pain and harm in most areas, including those where we’ve worked hard to invest and make progress over the past few years,” said Gov. Blagojevich, adding that lawmakers would be acting irresponsibly if they override the vetoes.
A lack of additional revenue would mean:
- Significant reductions in staffing throughout State government at agencies such as Department of Natural Resources, Department of Human Services, Department of Corrections, and others.
- Increased workload for DCFS caseworkers.
- A $110 million reduction in education spending.
- Nearly $260 million in reductions to social services programs. Over 100,000 individuals would see a reduction in services or access to community health and prevention services; 21,000 individuals with developmental disabilities living in the community would face reductions in service; mental health services and programs for individuals with developmental disabilities would be reduced; rates for foster parents would not increase.
- A $257 million reduction to economic development and transit. More than 100,000 workers will not receive job-skills training, and state support for RTA fare subsidies for students and people with disabilities would be eliminated.
- More than $600 million in healthcare reductions. This includes a $530 million Medicaid reduction resulting in healthcare providers such as hospital and pharmacies waiting an additional 20 days for payment from the State, on top of the 70 days they already wait; 20,000 outpatients would not receive service at Oak Forest Hospital; and up to 10,000 uninsured residents who are unaware of their HIV status would not be identified and linked to healthcare.
- More than $106 million in reductions to services for seniors and Veterans. Expansion of the Elder Abuse Line would not be funded, despite a 25 percent increase in calls to the line since its inception. An additional 40 bed expansion at the LaSalle Veteran’s Home would not open.
“Without new funding, the impact will be felt far and wide. It will mean the reduction of agriculture programs, mental health services, and healthcare services. It will mean the loss of jobs during a time when people are already struggling to make ends meet,” Gov. Blagojevich said. “That’s why I hope the House will do the responsible thing and pass additional revenue sources.”
To balance the operating budget, the Governor called on the House to pass several key pieces of legislation previously approved by the Senate:
Passing the State’s first capital plan in nine years will not only create more than 600,000 jobs and fix the State’s aging infrastructure, but it will also generate additional resources, including an estimated $280 million in new tax and fee revenues, and will eliminate operating appropriations that are used to support projects in the capital bill, freeing up $320 million from the operating budget. (HB1496 – Lottery; HB 2651 – Gaming; HB4723 – Bond Authorization; HB6339 – Capital Appropriations; HB5618 – Hospital Capital/Urban Economic Development)
Pass fund transfers
The Senate’s legislation will allow the state to transfer $530 million from other state funds into the general fund, as it did from FY03 through FY07. (SB790)
Approve pension restructuring
By authorizing the issuance of $16 billion pension bonds, the State will not only restructure the 1995 pension funding plan, but will save the State $55 billion between now and 2045. This would result in more than $400 million savings for FY09. (SB788)
The Governor urged the House to move swiftly in passing the legislation, stressing that the capital bill would immediately put people to work across the state in good, decent paying jobs that will also improve the State’s roads, bridges and transit systems.
“The solutions are right in front of us and can be approved quickly by the House,” Gov. Blagojevich said. “They need to do the responsible thing by passing this legislation. Otherwise, all Illinoisans will feel the effects of hurtful budget cuts during these already difficult economic times.”