(Skokie, IL) – February 20, 2011. The new Illinois budget proposed last week by Governor Pat Quinn—which included $1.7 billion in new spending—has drawn criticism from a top House Democratic lawmaker who wants deeper budget cuts, but cuts that are evenly distributed without undermining essential human services.
“The citizens of Illinois clearly expressed their demands in November that the state needs to tighten its belt and cut spending,” said House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie). “This year’s budget should include no spending increases. None.”
On Wednesday, Quinn delivered a brief budget address to the Illinois General Assembly in which the governor, who won a 66% income tax increase from legislators at the beginning of January, claimed that he was holding the line on spending.
“The first part of this plan is budget restraint – finding new ways to reduce unnecessary state spending,” said Quinn to lawmakers. “Since taking office, I have reduced our spending every year.”
Quinn’s budget plan for fiscal year 2012, excluding federal assistance, however, increases state spending from $24.313 billion last year to $25.931 billion this year, while eliminating or drastically reducing funding for key human service programs, such as meals-on-wheels for seniors, mental health, substance abuse prevention and treatment, child care and other human service programs.
“The governor needs to face reality that we can not increase spending; instead, we must cut the budget further,” said Lang. “But we must cut with a scalpel, not with a meat ax.”
- “We can not eliminate funding for senior meals, mental health care, substance abuse treatment and child care with one hand and hand out employee raises with the other,” said Lang. “We can achieve austerity without throwing the old, the infirm and children into a wood chipper.”
In his proposed fiscal plan, Quinn aims to cut or eliminate the following human service programs:
- Child Care Services–$333.3 million.
- Alcohol and Drug Prevention Treatment Services–$55.2 million—program eliminated.
- Mental Health Grants–$33.4 million—program virtually eliminated.
- Aid to Aged, Blind, or Disabled–$14.9 million.
- Funeral & Burial Expense Assistance–$3.5 million—program eliminated.
- Mental Health Psychotropic Medications–$2.6 million—program eliminated.
- Domestic Violence Shelters–$2.08 million—program eliminated.
- Home Delivered Meals to Seniors–$400,000
- Crisis Nurseries–$318,700—program eliminated.
“We do need to cut more out of the budget to achieve fiscal health, but these type of human service cuts are unacceptable while proposing spending increases elsewhere,” said Lang.
“I will work with the governor and with both Democratic and Republican lawmakers to produce a fiscally responsible budget while simultaneously protecting essential state human services.”
The Illinois House returns to Springfield on Tuesday, February 22.