Sunday, February 22, 2015 || By Michael Romain
Over the past several days since Gov. Rauner’s Feb. 18 budget address, there has been a tidal wave of reactions from state and local lawmakers–much of them penchant critiques of the governor’s cost-cutting.
The Chicago Sun-Times created a handy list of ten areas on “Rauner’s chopping block.” Virtually all of the cuts will affect residents of Proviso Township:
10 Areas on Rauner’s Chopping Block
• $1.5 billion reduction to Health and Family Services budget, including elimination of Specialized Mental Health Rehabilitation facilities.
• Division of alcohol and substance abuse – $27.5 million reduction
• Division of mental health — $82 million reduction
• Elimination of Best Buddies, Project Autism, Arc of Illinois, Homeless youth services, Immigration Integration Services, Illinois Welcoming centers
• $23 million reduction to Early Intervention Program
• $19 million reduction from 2015
$100 billion savings over 30 years in payments
$25 billion immediate reduction in unfunded liability.
$2.2 billion in savings from pension payments in this budget.
•$400 million reduction system wide
•More than 30 percent cut to all public universities over 2015.
•Illinois Board of Higher Education general funds cut by 50 percent
•Illinois Board of Higher Ed grants eliminated.
• Illinois Math and Science Academy reduced by nearly 8 percent.
• Ceasefire funding cut from $4.7 million to $1.9 million
• Elimination of funding for bullying prevention, meth pilot program, South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force
• Eliminates services for young adults ages 18-21
•$700 million reduction in budget for group health
•Reduces from 8 percent to 4 percent the share of income tax provided to local governments. $600 million reduction.
$127 million reduction in RTA subsidy, which could affect the CTA, Metra and Pace.
Here are some responses to the cuts from state and local lawmakers:
State Senator Kimberly Lightford (D-4th)
“Not funding education at a 100 percent rate again this year is simply unacceptable. Ninety-nine percent funding would not be enough, so the proposed 95 percent is certainly not adequate. Furthermore, the possibility of slashing the state’s child care program, worker salaries, Medicaid, and other critical services, while instituting sharper tax cuts for CEOs will not move Illinois forward. It will only lend itself to further alienation and degradation of those unlucky enough to be ill, young, elderly or poor.”
“I still hold hope that I can work with this administration to institute a budget relying on justified reform and facilitating job creation.”
State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch (D-7th)
“With Illinois facing an estimated $5.7 billion deficit next fiscal year, our state faces severe fiscal challenges. However, we cannot realistically cut our way to a balanced budget. Any approach must include spending cuts and additional revenue to avoid devastating the schools, law enforcement agencies and health care programs on which working families rely.”
“I was encouraged to hear the governor call for an increase in early childhood, elementary and secondary education funding, and I look forward to working with him and legislators on both sides of the aisle to ensure that we accomplish that goal.”
First District Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (pictured top) and State Sen. Don Harmon (D-39)
“Governor Rauner proposes to cut $50.4 million dollars from Specialized Mental Health Rehabilitation Facilities. Commonly referred to as “Smurfs,” these facilities provide needed crisis stabilization services and an opportunity for individuals wrestling with mental illness to transition back to community-based living with supportive services that reduce the risk of homelessness.
Without the availability of services in the community, individuals will be forced to rely upon services provided by our township governments, hospitals and jails. Such an influx would place great strain on the budgets of Cook County, and the villages, cities and townships we represent. The resulting burden on our local property taxes would increase to an even greater level.” VFP