(Chicago, IL) — July 1, 2010. At a press conference in Chicago, Governor Pat Quinn today announced budget reductions of $1.4 billion, slicing $312 million from Illinois human services, $241 million from local Illinois schools, $100 million from Illinois colleges and universities, and $15 million from the Illinois State Police.
“We have further tightened our belt by reducing state spending, enabling us to keep vital services intact, teachers employed and children learning,” said Governor Quinn.
Quinn noted that he has reduced spending by nearly $3 billion since taking office in January 2009, a 10.5 percent reduction.
Taking a shot at the Illinois General Assembly, Quinn’s press release stated:
“For the second year in a row, the General Assembly refused to deal with the realities of the state’s economic crisis. Instead, legislators approved an underfunded state budget, which passed the tough decisions along to Governor Quinn.”
Under the Emergency Budget Act, the Governor has powers to reduce and reserve funds throughout state government. These new laws also allow the Governor to address Illinois’ backlog of bills by providing the state with $2 billion from tobacco settlement revenue and available balances of other state funds.
“This budget cuts inefficiencies and holds state agencies accountable for their spending,” said David Vaught, Director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget.
The Governor also allocated funds for several high-priority programs, including:
- $206 million to maintain early childhood education programs throughout the state
- $26.7 million to fund adult education programs at community colleges, which in turn qualifies for an additional $48 million in federal matching dollars
- $325 million to maintain funding that allows eligible seniors to remain in their homes, rather than moving into nursing home, through the Department on Aging’s Community Care Program
- $55 million to fund community mental health programs to maintain funding for community mental health residential programs
Quinn’s allocation of $55 million to community health services fails to disguise the fact Illinois community mental health programs took a beating in the new Illinois budget, which threatens to turn thousands of Illinois residents struggling with mental illness onto the streets.
According to Fox Chicago News’ Mike Flannery, local community health centers have received their new state contracts with huge gouges in funding.
Fox Chicago News learned that, 48 hours before the governor’s public announcement, the state sent contracts for the coming fiscal year that cut some providers by up to 34 percent.
Thresholds, Illinois’s largest provider of homes for the mentally ill, said it lost $9.2 million in the contract it was told to sign and return by midnight Wednesday. FY2011 begins Thursday and Agency CEO Tony Zipple told us the cuts apparently take effect immediately.
… Zipple feared that several dozen of the 750 mentally ill housed in Thresholds apartments might be forced out of their homes. She said some would likely wind up back on the street, in hospital emergency rooms or even in jail…places where many of the program’s residents have been previously.
The Governor’s claim to “keep vital services intact” will fall short when it applies to Illinois community mental health.
“The draconian cuts contained in the DHS service agreements sent to community behavioral healthcare providers Monday are unfair, bad policy and balance the 2011 budget on the backs of the most vulnerable among us,” said Frank Anselmo, CEO of the Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois.
The Executive Order Quinn signed today requires spending reductions such as: travel expenses, vehicle use, printing, telecommunications, overtime pay, leasing of office space, contractual spending, energy efficiency, managed care for Medicaid and sale of surplus equipment and property.
The fiscal year 2011 budget takes effect today.
For more information on spending reduction progress by agency go to: Illinois Budget.