The actions by House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton to delay our return to the Capitol until July 14, just demonstrates a continuing lack of leadership. Illinois’ human services providers and recipients should not be left hanging for two more weeks.
The Governor needs to act decisively, stop being afraid of the House Speaker and the Senate President and bring lawmakers back to the Capitol to finish their work. Once again, the state has started a new fiscal year without a budget in place.
DEMOCRAT LEADERS CUT FUNDING FOR SOCIAL SERVICES
When it became clear earlier this year that there was not enough support for Governor Quinn’s proposed 50% increase in personal income taxes and a 50% increase in taxes on employers – the largest tax increase in the state’s history – the Democrat majorities in the Senate and House passed a budget May 31 that targets human service providers.
We have been hearing a lot about the choices that were made in that budget, which was approved in the final hours of the legislative session in May. I did not support that budget.
It is important to note that that the Democrat leaders made the decision to impose draconian cuts to the state’s human service programs and services. It was a conscious choice by Democrat leaders to increase spending in some areas of the budget and place the burden for absorbing budget cuts on human service agencies. Overall, the budget provided about 90% of the funding originally requested by the Governor, but cut about 50% from human services agency funding.
ANOTHER NEVER-ENDING SESSION?
The Governor’s veto was not unexpected – he addressed a joint session of the General Assembly June 30, and pledged to veto the budget, saying he would keep lawmakers in Springfield until they passed a budget more to his liking.
Fiscal Year 2010 began on July 1, meaning Illinois is now operating without a signed budget. The Governor did not act on other portions of the budget and would not say whether or not he intended to approve the remainder of the budget.
It was not immediately clear what impact the veto might have on human service providers and their clients, as the Governor has sent mixed signals – alternately declaring that he would shut off funding to providers and slash services, and then backing off his own threats. The Governor’s flip-flops have left thousands of human service providers in the dark, with some saying they have no choice but to assume the worst and lay-off employees, reduce services or even close.