Governor Pat Quinn Likely to Sign Illinois Budget Thursday

(Springfield, IL) — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn may sign the 2012 state budget Thursday, but the spending plan is not a one-and-done deal.

“The budget is an on-going process,” said Quinn. “We have to work on it 365 days of the fiscal year.”

Quinn, who introduced a nearly $36 billion budget, said he is not happy with the $33.4 billion spending plan that Illinois lawmakers sent him, and he wants more spending in education and human services.

But while Quinn can shift around money in the budget, he cannot order more spending, said state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago.

“The governor has some limitations when he is acting on the budget,” said Feigenholtz. ”He cannot add. He can only (order) line-item reductions.”

But Feigenholtz, who helped write the human services portion of the state budget, said Quinn “should come back to the Legislature to ask us for more” money this fall. And Quinn agreed.


Topinka Says State to Reap Nearly $100 Million from U.S. Government for Illinois Medicaid Bills

(Springfield, IL) — Illinois lawmakers on Wednesday approved a plan to delay a $365 million payment into Illinois’ rainy day fund, and instead use that money to pay some of the billions of dollars Illinois owes to Medicaid providers.

Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka said the state is racing to maximize a federal Medicaid match that expires at the end of the month. Illinois is getting 57 cents on the dollar for qualifying Medicaid bills that it pays this month. Starting in July, that rate falls back to the normal 50 cents on the dollar.

Maximizing the $365 million, Topinka said, should allow her to pay $1.85 billion in Medicaid bills by June 30. She estimates Illinois could receive an extra $90 million to $100 million from the federal government.


Governor Pat Quinn Wants Illinois Budget to “Protect Core Priorities”

(Springfield, IL) — Illinois’ new budget may spend less than Gov. Pat Quinn’s original proposal, but it is higher than this past year’s budget and was balanced by delaying the payment of billions of dollars in unpaid bills until this current fiscal year.

“The governor has been clear … that while we put our fiscal house in order, we must continue to protect core priorities,” said Kelly Kraft, Quinn’s budget spokeswoman.

Quinn is “reviewing” the budget’s impact on human services and schools statewide, Kraft said, which were among those items lawmakers trimmed to reduce spending from Quinn’s $36 billion to $33.2 billion.

House Democratic budget architect Frank Mautino, D-Spring Valley, said the new spending priorities include Illinois’ $4 billion pension payment.

The budget “for the first time doesn’t hide the true costs of state government by taking the pensions off budget,” said Mautino. “We’re making all of our pension payments, which for the past three years we’ve had to borrow” to fund.

But pension payments are one piece of Illinois’ astronomical debt. In the proposed budget, lawmakers did not reduce the $4 billion in old bills on the desk of Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka. Instead, the state will take longer to pay these bills, including Medicaid payments

State Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago, said lawmakers are spending as much as Illinois is expected to take in from taxpayers.

“This is a revenue-driven budget … versus a program-driven budget, which we’ve had in the past where we created programs and then tried to find money,” Trotter said.

State Rep. David Harris, R-Arlington Heights, said that if Illinois brings in more than $33.2 billion in tax revenue, that extra money will pay for past-due bills.

Benjamin Yount, Illinois Statehouse News