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Reactions to Gov. Pat Quinn's Budget Address

The following news releases were issued Wednesday following Gov. Pat Quinn's budget address

Lt. Governor Sheilia Simon (D)

SPRINGFIELD – February 22, 2012. Following the Governor’s budget address, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon recognized state agencies that voluntarily made cuts to help balance the fiscal year 2013 budget and encouraged state residents to participate in public hearings that will be held on proposed facility closures.

“A responsible budget must be based on real revenue. With pension and Medicaid costs eating up more of our tax dollars, we must reduce spending. As Lt. Governor, I worked hard to cut 9 percent of our budget, and applaud the other agencies who scoured their operations to do the same. As a Southern Illinois resident, I am disappointed that the state is proposing facility closures in areas that already suffer from high unemployment. I encourage the people whose livelihoods will be affected to join me in the budget process and speak up as we review the economic impact of such closures.”

Simon’s fiscal year 2013 appropriation request is more than 9 percent lower than her budget request from fiscal year 2012 and includes a reduction in full-time staff, from 24 to 21 members. The appropriation request is the lowest in at least 16 years and will net taxpayers a savings of nearly $200,000. In FY12, Simon is the only constitutional officer to return the equivalent of 12 days pay to the General Revenue Fund. Her senior staff voluntarily is taking four unpaid furlough days in FY12, as well.            

As the Governor’s point person on education reform and a member of the Budgeting for Results Commission, Simon recently announced a community college reform package that will use existing state resources to increase college completion rates. As chair of the Classrooms First Commission, Simon is developing recommendations that will make elementary and high school districts more efficient.

Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka (R)

SPRINGFIELD– Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka on Wednesday released the following statement in response to Gov. Pat Quinn’s Budget address:

“I applaud Governor Quinn for offering specific cuts to the state budget. We all know there are no easy answers, and I appreciate him detailing some of the options for digging our state out of this mess.

“But taken in totality, today’s budget proposal amounts to a hodgepodge of ideas that are not thought through, and that will do little to address the state’s mountain of unpaid bills. In fact, while the Governor proposes saving money by closing prisons and other state facilities, he increases spending on existing programs. He calls for closing tax loopholes even as he offers new tax breaks for certain segments of the population. And while he highlights 9 percent cuts for state offices, he simultaneously increases the budgets of other agencies. Sadly, the numbers don’t add up – and in truth, appropriations from the General Funds are up more than $500 million over the current budget.

“Perhaps most importantly, the Governor failed to provide any specifics for dealing with the state’s biggest budget ‘eaters’: Medicaid and pensions. I appreciate his stated intention of working with the General Assembly to find solutions, but hoped that he would share more of his vision in this budget proposal. At the end of the day, nothing else matters until Illinois deals with those costs.

“Governor Quinn has provided a starting point for discussion. I look forward to working with him and the General Assembly to move us forward, and get Illinois back on track to fiscal stability.”

Treasurer Dan Rutherford (R)

SPRINGFIELD – February 22, 2012 – “Let me be clear: I commend Governor Quinn’s proposal to fully fund next year’s pension obligation. I heard a commitment from the governor today to make meaningful, fair reforms to both the public pension system and Medicaid. If these reforms are accomplished, it will be a very productive session for the Illinois General Assembly. I stand ready to work with the governor. We must act now.”

State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Sen. Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) says Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget blueprint that closes Rockford’s Singer Mental Health Center and increases spending by $500 million from last year would have a negative impact on local patients, hospitals and the economy.

“For me and many lawmakers, the Governor’s proposal is non-starter,” Syverson said. “His proposal would close Singer without any sort of plan of where to send its patients. This will have a devastating effect locally – not just with the loss of jobs at Singer – but its patients would be dumped into hospitals as uncompensated care, creating a financial burden for them as well.”

Syverson warned the move would have a crippling effect on Northern Illinois hospitals, which are already six months behind in receiving state payments. In addition, hospitals would see additional burdens under Quinn’s plan for $2.7 billion in cuts to Medicaid providers.

“The net effect of all of this is clear: hospitals will be forced to pass these new costs onto local patients at a time they can least afford it,” Syverson said.

The Senator said a better way of finding cost-savings would be to go through the budget line-by-line, examining every program and asking three questions – 1) Is this program a duplicate of any other program, 2) What is the effectiveness of the program, and 3) How can we deliver the programs’ services more effectively?

“This approach would yield broader savings in the budget without taking wholesale cuts to programs serving the most vulnerable,” Syverson said.

The Senator also targeted the Governor’s budget for actually increasing spending by $500 million from last year, despite his recent claims he would seek to cut spending back to 2008 levels.

 “For the Governor to say he is spending less in this budget than in 2008 is like a person saying their household spending went down because they didn't pay mortgage payments,” Syverson said. “Under his plan, he would actually increase spending by $3.5 billion than what was spent in 2008, when you look at total spending, not just appropriations like his analysis does. And at the same time he’s proposing closing Singer and other front-line service providers for society’s most vulnerable citizens, he’s dramatically increasing funds for the Monetary Award Program, Neighborhood Recovery Initiative and other areas to achieve an overall spending hike.”

 Another concern with the Governor’s budget Syverson has is its cuts to road funding that will dramatically increase the backlog of deteriorating Illinois roads, while at the same time calling for $3 billion in new school construction without any ideas on how to pay for it.

 “Again, the Governor favors cutting one area, while calling for massive new spending in another area without any suggestions on how to come up with the funding,” Syverson said.

Syverson said he looks forward to working with lawmakers from both parties on a budget that is better for Northern Illinois patients, hospitals and taxpayers.

Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools

SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools, representing regional offices of education and intermediate service centers in Illinois, today issued the following statement in response to the governor's budget address:

"We are disappointed to once again see our state funding targeted by Gov. Quinn. But as we learned last year, this is just one step in a long process. We will be working diligently with the new Streamlining Illinois' Regional Offices of Education Commission, which is conducting its first meeting today, and legislators throughout the spring session to educate them on our vital role for schools and the real value we bring every day to students, families, educators and taxpayers. We would ask everyone not to jump to any conclusions early on but instead work with us on continually evaluating and improving our role for better education in Illinois."

-- Bob Daiber, president of the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools and Madison County regional superintendent.

Illinois Hospital Association, president and CEO Mary Jane A. Wurth

NAPERVILLE, IL – The Illinois Hospital Association (IHA) is disappointed by the Governor’s proposal to cut $2.7 billion from Illinois’ Medicaid program.  This proposed cut, which is equal to 18 percent of total spending on Medicaid, will harm all Illinois residents. 

We are deeply concerned that if state leaders make rash decisions – like imposing drastic cuts or quickly moving large numbers of people into HMOs – it could have far-reaching consequences that hurt patients, communities and the health care system. The people of Illinois deserve a thoughtful, informed plan for a multi-year approach that protects patients and preserves health care jobs that the state desperately needs to hold onto.

Today, nearly one in three hospitals in every area of the state is losing money.  If cuts are made to Medicaid, many hospitals will be forced to reduce or eliminate key services or lay off staff, and some hospitals may close.  When health care services are eliminated due to Medicaid cuts, those services are gone for everyone, not just Medicaid patients.  Patients will be forced to travel further for care, and health care deserts will develop in the neediest areas of Illinois. 

IHA and the hospital community have solutions for redesigning Medicaid. They include:

• Enhancing the Hospital Assessment Program that would provide an additional $40 million for the Medicaid Program.

• Enhancing the current Primary Care Case Management program that already has saved the Medicaid program more than $400 million over the past four years.

• Supporting provider-led models of care coordination to improve care, reduce readmissions and unnecessary utilization of services, and lower costs.

IHA looks forward to working with the Governor and General Assembly to transform Medicaid and the state’s health care delivery system so all Illinoisans have access to the quality health care they need and deserve.

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