SPRINGFIELD, IL – State Sen. Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) said after months of dismal fiscal news, Governor Quinn offered no prospects of financial recovery in his budget address on Feb. 22.
“Governor Quinn has failed to do what this state needs most, which is to craft a reasonable and responsible budget,” Sen. Sandack said. “This budget is no better than the last fiscal year – it’s much worse. He has proposed to spend $50 million more this year, in the midst of the largest fiscal crisis the state has ever experienced, while doing little to pay down the bill backlog and little to no details on Medicaid and pension reform. It’s completely asinine. We need cuts in size and scope and nothing should be exempt from review and reduction.”
Sen. Sandack stressed Medicaid and pension reform, saying without it, Illinois will continue to drown in liabilities. Despite a target of reducing Medicaid spending, the proposed budget would actually see a record three million persons on Medicaid during the coming year – adding 160,000 persons to the program. Furthermore, while the Governor acknowledged the ballooning public pension payments, he offered no real specifics of reform.
“We are not going to get anywhere without serious attention to Medicaid and pension reform,” he said. “It’s extremely disappointing and detrimental to the state. This was the year we needed change and leadership, and yet we see much of the same as years past. What we’ve heard today will do nothing to bring any sort of fiscal responsibility to the state.”
Sen. Sandack said Gov. Quinn’s proposed spending levels were unacceptable and set the stage for the temporary 67% tax increase to become permanent.
“Reducing the state's backlog of bills was cited as a primary reason for last year's massive income tax hike,” he noted. “The budget the Governor proposed today would leave just $160 million to pay off old bills and spends 99.5% of every anticipated dollar the state would receive in the coming year. The $160 million towards bills, which the tax increase was supposed to pay off in the first place, is only 1.9 % of the backlog – a number that is likely to grow with this budget. That’s like a drop in a bucket.”
It is estimated that without budget reform, the state backlog will reach $35 billion, or about $2 billion more than the state's entire annual general fund, by 2017.