PI Original Josh Kalven Monday May 18th, 2009, 2:06pm

Quinn: Doomsday Budget Would Have "Awful Human Toll"

In a letter advanced to state agency heads today, Gov. Quinn made clear that he is "not a proponent" of the doomsday budget assembled by his office.  He emphasized that he must nonetheless "inform Illinois citizens about
the dire consequences that would follow ...

In a letter advanced to state agency heads today, Gov. Quinn made clear that he is "not a proponent" of the doomsday budget assembled by his office.  He emphasized that he must nonetheless "inform Illinois citizens about the dire consequences that would follow should the General Assembly pass a 'slash and burn' budget."

The doomsday budget addresses the state's $11.6 billion deficit by coupling $7.5 billion in cuts with $4.1 billion in stimulus funds.  Quinn sent the agency heads a summary of these reductions, stating: "This list illustrates the awful human toll that a Doomsday scenario will have on the Land of Lincoln and why it is not the right course for Illinois."  Here are the sector-by-sector cuts:

Education – $1.5 billion cut – Over 14,300 teachers laid off

Higher Education – $554 million cut – Over 400,000 students affected

Healthcare – $1.2 billion cut – Over 650,000 people lose healthcare

Seniors – $368 million cut – Over 271,000 seniors affected

Veterans – $27 million cut – Over 150,000 veterans affected and 1,000 kicked out of veterans’ homes

Public Safety – $294 million cut – Nearly 1,000 State Troopers laid off and 6,000 inmates released early

Human Services – $769 million cut – Over 100,000 people affected

Economic Development – $549 million cut – Every mass transit district affected

Agriculture and Natural Resources – $98 million cut – 60 parks and every museum closed

Local Government – $1 billion cut

We obtained the full letter, which you can read below:

Dear Illinois citizen,

Within the next two weeks, the General Assembly will approve a new state budget - a crucial decision that will determine Illinois’ fate for many years. On March 18, I presented lawmakers a proposed budget for fiscal year 2010 that will rescue our state from financial ruin while protecting its most needy citizens.

To date, my budget remains the only comprehensive and balanced budget plan before the General Assembly. It calls for: paying off a more than $7 billion deficit in fiscal year 2010; investing in education and healthcare; protecting vital social services; providing tax fairness and relief to nearly five million taxpayers; and making over $1 billion in spending cuts.

My proposed budget also recognizes the hard economic fact that state revenues are falling while demand for services is dramatically increasing.

Most important, it speaks honestly and directly to the people of Illinois about the tough choices we must confront. However, some critics and opponents reject my realistic solution. Instead they want to slash away at the budget, hurting our children, students, working families, elderly, veterans and many other citizens.

I am not a proponent of a Doomsday approach. As I said in my March 18 address to lawmakers, a budget that only offers mean-spirited tactics like these hurts all of our citizens and damages the economy.

When it comes to passing a budget, we need to make tough choices not bad choices.

However, as Governor I have a responsibility to inform Illinois citizens about the dire consequences that would follow should the General Assembly pass a “slash and burn” budget. This list illustrates the awful human toll that a Doomsday scenario will have on the Land of Lincoln and why it is not the right course for Illinois.

Sincerely,

Pat Quinn
Governor


Here is the full inventory of cuts included in the doomsday budget:

“Slash and Burn” Budget Consequences

Balancing the fiscal year 2010 budget by using only a “slash and burn” approach will take a significant toll on the people of Illinois. In this grim budget scenario, Illinois meets requirements to tap American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding and provides limited state money necessary to attract other federal matching funds.

What follows are some of the dire consequences should this scorched-earth, cuts-only, approach be used to close the deficit:

Education – $1.5 billion cut – Over 14,300 teachers laid off

• Cut school aid by $568 million, causing more than 9,300 teachers to lose their jobs.

• Eliminate preschool for 100,000 children, causing more than 5,000 teachers to lose their jobs.

Higher Education – $554 million cut – Over 400,000 students affected

• Eliminate all state scholarships, including MAP grants, making college less affordable for 400,000 students.

Healthcare – $1.2 billion cut – Over 650,000 people lose healthcare

• Eliminate healthcare for 300,000 children and 175,000 parents, and Rx assistance for 172,000 seniors.

• Eliminate all healthcare subsidies for 78,000 retired teachers, university and state employees.

Seniors – $368 million cut – Over 271,000 seniors affected

• Cut Community Care program in half - 26,000 seniors would not receive services to help remain in their homes.

• Eliminate Elder Abuse and Neglect program - 11,000 cases would not be investigated.

• Eliminate Circuit Breaker program, cutting property tax relief for 271,000 seniors.

Veterans – $27 million cut – Over 150,000 veterans affected and 1,000 kicked out of veterans’ homes

• Close all four Illinois veterans’ homes, leaving over 1,000 veterans without critical care.

• Eliminate Traumatic Brain Injury & Post Traumatic Stress Disorder counseling and assistance program.

Public Safety – $294 million cut – Nearly 1,000 State Troopers laid off and 6,000 inmates released earl.

• Lay off nearly 1,000 State Troopers -50 percent of the force - and eliminate the 2010 class of 100 cadets.

• Release over 6,000 inmates early and close the Sheridan and Southwestern Drug Treatment facilities.

• Close four Department of Juvenile Justice facilities and release over 500 juveniles early.

Human Services – $769 million cut – Over 100,000 people affected

• Eliminate home services for 5,000 people with disabilities.

• Eliminate addiction treatment and prevention for 45,000 people.

• Close one out of every five Illinois Department of Human Services offices.

• Eliminate child care for 1,000 kids and increase co-pays for remaining children.

Economic Development – $549 million cut – Every mass transit district affected

• Eliminate all state funding for public transit and AMTRAK.

Agriculture and Natural Resources – $98 million cut – 60 parks and every museum closed

• Shut down half of the state parks and lay off one-third of frontline park staff, and close state museums.

• Eliminate state funding for Springfield and Du Quoin state fairs, 4-H and county fairs.

Local Government – $1 billion cut

• Eliminate state funding for local governments, reducing their ability to fund core services like law enforcement, fire service and garbage collection and offices like public defenders, county treasurers and state’s attorneys.

Additional– $1.1 billion cut

• Require additional deep reductions in agency services, eliminate support for numerous specialized programs and eliminate dozens of state boards, offices, commissions and agencies.


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