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

Quinn, Lawmakers Urged to Support $74 Million Schoenberg Plan to Boost Drug, Alcohol Abuse Prevention and Treatment to Protect Youth

(Springfield, IL) – Illinois’ leading addiction healthcare advocates today called on Governor Pat Quinn and top lawmakers to support legislation to give a $74 million financial boost to community addiction

State Senator Jeff Schoenberg

State Senator Jeff Schoenbergprevention and treatment providers who are relentlessly confronting deadly accidents involving youth linked to alcohol or drugs.

“Alcohol abuse and drunk driving continue to exact a terrible, deadly toll on youth and children in communities throughout Illinois,” said Sara Moscato Howe, CEO of the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association. “Addiction is recession-proof.”

“We are calling on Governor Pat Quinn, Speaker Michael Madigan, House Minority Leader Tom Cross, Senate President John Cullerton, and Senate

Senate President John Cullerton

Senate President John Cullerton

Minority Leader Christine Radogno to support Senator Jeff Schoenberg’s legislation to invest an additional $74 million this year into under-funded addiction healthcare services,” said Moscato Howe.

“We recognize the state faces tough budget problems, but we can’t put a price tag on saving peoples’ lives,” Moscato Howe added.

Schoenberg’s legislation, Senate Bill 1856, would appropriate an additional $18,100,000 to community based addiction treatment for Medicaid eligible individuals and KidCare enrolled children.  The legislation would also appropriate an additional $6,000,000 to expand addiction prevention services for youth.

The bill is currently in the Senate Assignment Appropriations I Committee.

Moscato Howe also noted an Illinois Department of Human Services study revealed that in 2006 nearly 40% of Illinois 12th graders had ridden in a car with a drunk or high teenager in the last year and 30% had had the same experience with a drunk or high adult.

“Illinois youth are at risk of harm and death by their alcohol and drug use and adults’ use too,” said Moscato Howe. “Governor Quinn and lawmakers must act now to increase investment in the addiction healthcare system. Saving lives must be a priority even in a recession”

“We urge the Senate Appropriations Committee to debate the risks faced by Illinois youth from drugs and alcohol and then approve the bill quickly,” said Moscato Howe.

The Senate Appropriations Committee includes: Senators Donne Trotter, Jeff Schoenberg, Jacqueline Collins, William Delgado, Mattie Hunter, Mike Jacobs, Emil Jones III, Matt Murphy, Pamela Althoff, Tim Bivins, Chris Lauzen, and Dave Syverson.