budget FY15

As the fight over Illinois’ budget drags on, an addiction treatment program for juveniles and an anti-violence program, which both saw their state funding cut off earlier this year, still wait for a lifeline.

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A top official with Gov. Bruce Rauner's office confirms, Illinois will restore $26 million in funding for a tobacco quitline, programs for autistic children and other social service grants. Projections show the state is taking in more money than expected.  While some cuts will remain, the windfall frees up money to reverse the cuts Rauner made with little warning on Good Friday, in early April.
 

The news has Joanne Guthrie-Gard beaming -- one of those "couldn't wipe it off her face" smiles. "I'm ecstatic. I'm so excited," she says.

There's a hold-up over efforts to programs dealing with autism, drug prevention, and more from ending. It seems like advocates should be celebrating.

After Gov. Bruce Rauner says he was forced to earlier this month suddenly pull $26 million worth of state grants, the Illinois Senate used the legislative version of searching under the couch cushions for change.

Luis Arroyo
Brian Mackey/WUIS

A budget oversight panel created by Illinois House Speaker  Michael Madigan grilled members of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration about cuts to the current budget and his plan for next year. 

  Democratic members of the committee demanded more information about how the governor is choosing which programs to cut and, in some cases, eliminate. They say the process the administration used to decide what to cut lacked transparency  and argued that some of the choices, like eliminating services to people with autism, were wrong.

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Jaegar Moore / flickr.com/97408355@N06

Bruce Rauner froze several state grants in order to balance the budget for the current fiscal year. Now lawmakers are asking what will happen to the people who relied on those programs even after their deaths. 

One of the grants provided money to cover burial of the poor. Under the program, funeral homes provide the services and bill the state to cover part of the costs.

House floor
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois' budget, and Gov. Bruce Rauner's influence on it, will be examined by a special legislative committee. The powerful House Speaker announced its creation today.

It's either a sign of a contentious budget battle, or an early attempt at reaching a compromise.

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

  Officials with The Autism Program said they felt shock April 3, when they were told their state funding was canceled — effective immediately. The Good Friday notice also came to the chagrin of some legislators who said they thought autism programs would be spared from budget cuts.

“I regularly come into contact with 18 senators and representatives across the state,” said TAP lobbyist Jim Runyon. “They had been assured that the autism program was going to be held harmless through the remainder of (fiscal) ’15.”

Twenty-seven people are out of a job at Illinois' Tobacco Quitline, which means there's no one left to answer the phone.

For the past 15 years, Illinois smokers could dial 1-866-QUIT-YES, and a tobacco treatment counselor or nurse would answer. Try calling now, and there's a message saying: "Your call is important to us. Unfortunately, Quitline funding has been suspended due to budget cuts and we will be closed until further notice."

It was an abrupt end. Supporters say they had little financial wiggle room.

Organization and business leaders say they were stunned by a Good Friday notice indicating state funding for some programs would be immediately terminated. Democrats say they were “blindsided” too.

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Social service agencies are reeling from sudden budget cuts. More could be on the way.

Some Democrats say they were taken off guard when, two weeks after legislators and Gov. Bruce Rauner passed a law to handle the budget through June, Rauner's administration said certain programs would be cut-off: Grants for a quit-smoking hotline, support for autistic kids, and funding for a teen after-school program -- all eliminated. In cases, workers have been laid off, and services discontinued.

 Some Lawmakers say that they believed certain programs had been protected under a budget deal recently struck with the governor to fund state services through the rest of the fiscal year. But Gov. Bruce Rauner froze several human services grants earlier this month — including support for people with autism.

Now a Senate budget committee is calling on members of the administration to explain the cuts. Democratic Sen. Dan Kotowski, who chairs the committee, says the money should be restored.

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Jaegar Moore / flickr.com/97408355@N06

Illinois has until recently paid for the cost of burial of its indigent dead. That changed on Good Friday, when the administration of Gov. Bruce Rauner terminated funding for the program.

The $9 million loss could push the cost of impoverished decedents’ final arrangements onto their families, funeral homes or even counties. Funeral directors say the cut could “cause many problems” for the state, which is struggling to fund operations through the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Gov. Bruce Rauner says he choose to award business tax credits to uphold Illinois' trustworthiness with companies, but the Republican's critics are calling it "beyond the pale."

Social service organizations are still reeling from the unexpected news they received a week ago that Gov. Rauner was immediately cutting off their state grants. No longer would there be money to bury the indigent. Funding for The Autism Program, eliminated. Funding stripped from addiction prevention. Cuts totaling $200 million.

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Editor's note appended.

Last week’s short-term budget fix underscores tensions between some Democratic lawmakers and the new Republican governor. House and Senate Democratic leaders urged their members to support the appropriations, but many didn’t. Some Hispanic legislators and members of the Legislative Black Caucus voted against the budget legislation, which funded programs several of them said were important to their respective constituents.

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

The Illinois General Assembly this week approved a fix for Illinois short-term budget problems, but deeper issues remain. Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock took his final vote in Congress and gave a farewell address. Daily Herald Political Editor Mike Riopell joins the panel to discuss that and other topics on this week's edition of State Week.

Amanda Vinicky

Republican Bruce Rauner has signed a temporary budget fix -- his first law since becoming governor earlier this year. 

Illinois' budget has a $1.6 billion dollar gap --- the result of a spending plan Democrats passed in the spring; some had hoped then for a post-election tax increase that never came to fruition.

Democratic Senator Heather Steans of Chicago says this will fill that gap.

One fix to this year's budget comes in the form of an across-the-board cut of 2.25 percent. It would affect Illinois schools, which already say they don’t get enough state funding.

To soften the blow, the deal includes $97 million the governor and State Board of Education can use to help schools that are desperately in need. House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie says a school would have to have serious financial problems to qualify for the assistance.

Brian Mackey / WUIS

The Illinois House on Tuesday voted to patch a 1.6-billion-dollar hole in the current state budget.

  The budget was supposed to get Illinois through June, but already the state's running out of money for things like court reporters and prison guards. That’s in part because Democrats passed an incomplete budget last year — not wanting to raise taxes or cut spending.

Now Democrats and Republicans — including Gov. Bruce Rauner — say they’ve found a solution. But it continues to mostly avoid that difficult choice.

Host Amanda Vinicky and guests Andy Maloney (Chicago Daily Law Bulletin) and Patrick Yeagle (IL Times) discuss issues with the 2015 Budget, runoff in Chicago Mayoral race, and Exelon's nuclear prop-up plan.

CapitolView is a production of WSEC-TV/PBS Springfield, Network Knowledge.

Listen to reporter Rhonda Gillespie talk to Jamey Dunn about her story on funding for youth programs. 

Nearly three-dozen non-profit organizations — mostly in the Chicago area — were told Jan. 29 that money they were expected to get as part of an $8 million Youth Development grant had been blocked by Gov. Bruce Rauner. The new Republican governor has made a point of undoing as many of former Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn’s lame-duck actions as possible, withdrawing promised funding, blocking contracts and rescinding executive orders.

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Next week, Gov. Bruce Rauner will unveil his spending proposal. The non-partisan Civic Federation has some suggestions.

The Civic Federation’s Director, Laurence Msall, says Illinois’ budget isn’t just in bad shape; its condition is terrible ... and climbing out of it won’t be easy.

“These are not politically attractive answers. There are financial, reality-based suggestions on how the state can stabilize its finances,” he says.

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Nearly three-dozen non-profit organizations — mostly in the Chicago area — were told Jan. 29 that money they were expected to get as part of an $8 million Youth Development grant had been blocked by Gov. Bruce Rauner. The new Republican governor has made a point of undoing as many of former Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn’s lame-duck actions as possible, withdrawing promised funding, blocking contracts and rescinding executive orders.

Reboot Illinois

Funding for everything from state-subsidized daycare to court reporters' salaries is running out in Illinois. At the same time, Republican Governor Bruce Rauner has signed on a top aide for a contract worth $30,000 a month.

Donna Arduin may not be a household name in Illinois yet, but as Rauner's Chief Financial Officer, she may become on.

Arduin has been contracted to "provide advice to the governor" on how to deal with Illinois' pending fiscal challenges.

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Gov. Bruce Rauner has consistently said he's waiting to give details on his plans for Illinois' finances until his budget address, on February 18th. But decisions by previous lawmakers may force him to make closely-watched decisions sooner.

Illinois has a program that helps low-income parents pay for day-care. But -- because the previous General Assembly cut funding for it by millions from the current state budget - state money for has run out.

That's alarming for advocates like Emily Miller, who is with Voices for Illinois Children.

2014 in review
WUIS

This week, Daily Herald political editor Mike Riopell joins the regular panel to look back at some of the top stories in state government and political for 2014, and what's ahead in the new year.

Amanda Vinicky

Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner has already tried to make the case that that Illinois' finances are worse than he thought. Now he's adding to his list of examples.

"What we've learned here in recent days, and I'm here to get more of the detail on ... there's $760 million of what they're calling - what I guess, I'm learning the lingo - supplemental appropriations, about to be requested," he said.

Basically, it means that state agencies are going to be asking for an additional $760 million to get them through this budget year -- or, as Rauner put it, they want to go "over budget."

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner was back in Springfield Tuesday. He spoke with reporters and — not surprisingly — says Illinois’ finances are in terrible shape.

Last spring, Democrats acknowledged they passed a budget that’s badly out of balance. It spends way more money than the state will collect from taxes — a multi-billion-dollar shortfall. Now Rauner says the problem is even worse than it seemed.

Jamey Dunn headshot
mattpenning.com 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Listen to Dunn's interview about her column with Rachel Otwell: 

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Illinois is about a quarter of the way into its fiscal year and building up debt along the way. A new report from the Civic Federation says it's a return to detrimental policies that landed Illinois in an unstable financial position in the first place.

There was one, glaring question for lawmakers last spring: what were they going to do about the temporary income tax?

Dana Thomas House Foundation / http://www.dana-thomas.org/About.aspx

The Dana Thomas House in Springfield is still drying out, after it was closed because of flooding last Thursday. It's a short-term problem that raises a longer-term concern.

The site's manager, Justin Blandford, says the Frank Lloyd Wright designed home is back open to visitors -- though the tours that resumed on Sunday did not go through the basement.

Blandford says the home is in a "drying out" period.

The situation raises broader concerns about what can be done to better protect and preserve the historic home. Blandford says improvements are needed.

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