Illinois Governor Pat Quinn describes it as the “toughest budget we’ve faced.”
He doesn’t reveal his budget plan until 12pm Wednesday, but already it’s creating a lot of controversy over some of his proposed cuts and closures.
The main piece of the “bad news budget” that Gov. Quinn is expected to announce is a 9% across-the-board cut in every state department and constitutional office.
On top of that, the state’s Medicaid program is getting a lot of attention. Among the proposed changes… cutting payment rates for doctors, setting more uniform standards of care, and cutting off some services.
Illinois already owes close to $2 billion to medical service providers. It’s still unclear if Gov. Quinn will want to borrow to pay for those unpaid bills, but restructuring the state’s Medicaid system could save the state nearly $3 billion.
There’s only one area that will see more money under Gov. Quinn’s budget proposal and that’s education.
“We have to make cuts in Illinois,” says Gov. Quinn. “There’s no question. There’s going to be some very serious cuts. There are quite a few facilities that will be closed down but that is necessarily, but having said that, we can’t cut our way to prosperity. We must grow and build our economy so our number one way to do that is to invest in our education.”
Gov. Quinn’s proposal asks for increases in preschool spending and tuition assistance for college students.
Another part of the spending plan is shutting down 14 state facilities. Those facilities include prisons, mental health centers, and social service offices.
One slated to close is Illinois’ only super-max prison, Tamms Prison, which is located downstate and houses the “worst of the worst.”
Another closure includes “Crossroads Adult Transition Center” that receives about $5 million a year from the state. That money helps 700 prisoners transition into the real world.
The head of the program says it’s essential for public safety that “Crossroads” and these other facilities stay open.
“We recognize that the state is in dire straights of sorts, that they’re going to have to find a way to make the state whole with respect to this budget, but you can’t make the state whole in a situation like this because on the front end it may look like okay we’re saving a few million dollars by cutting this program, but on the back end it’s going to cost more,” says Vice President, Veronica Cunningham.
Another facility that could close is a local mental institution in Dixon, Illinois.
Gov. Quinn is not expected to call for general tax or fee hikes, but does plan on asking lawmakers to close business tax loopholes in order to raise some revenue for the state.