(Chicago, IL) — February 4, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn‘s Administration is seeking to launch a “grassroots” campaign to build legislative support for a $8.7 billion bonding bill that would pay the Illinois’ overdue bills.
Quinn’s staff started today reaching out to lobbyists and key state vendors asking them to sign a letter to lawmakers advocating for the legislation, Senate Bill 3, according to an Administration source.
The bill, which is sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), would authorize the payment of any bills 60 days overdue, medical expenses incurred by the State under its health plans, corporate income tax refunds, and other operating expenses.
Nearly simultaneously, the advocacy group, Voices for Illinois Children, whose long-time president Jerry Stermer is now a top aide to Quinn, issued today an unsigned e-mail advocacy alert, plugging Senate Bill 3.
“Vital priorities for kids and families – from health and human services to education and public-safety efforts – are by no means out of the fiscal woods yet. Further, significant budget cuts are under consideration and could be announced soon, as providers of critical services still struggle with unpaid bills.
Senate Bill 3 represents the next, significant step toward stabilizing Illinois’ shaky finances, putting schools and human services on more sound footing. This legislation would allow the state to restructure its debt, helping us to quickly and efficiently pay-down a $6 billion stack of outstanding bills.”
The Voices for Illinois Children message seems to implicitly link the fate of rumoured, massive mid-year budget cuts at the Department of Human Services, totaling perhaps $400 million, to Senate Bill 3 even though the two issues entirely separate fiscal issues.
However, the implied linkage could prompt spooked human service providers to sign up with the Governor’s grassroots campaign, hoping–beyond rational hope–that participation and a successful conclusion could somehow stave off cuts.
The timing is fascinating. Quinn’s Administration is simultaneously seeking help on Senate Bill 3 from human service providers while signaling their funding in the current FY 2011 budget will likely be cut. Whether the confluence generates motivation or resignation among vendors remains to be seen.