Part one: Quinn’s misguided Budget Address, a missed opportunity

March 1, 2012

Last Wednesday, February 22, Governor Pat Quinn presented his fourth budget address. 

What happened to Quinn’s plan leading up to his speech when he claimed that spending would be rolled back to 2008 levels?

In actuality, Quinn’s new FY13 budget proposal increases state spending by around $500 million over the FY12 budget and a whopping $3.5 billion more than the 2008 spending level, despite Quinn’s warning in his address that the state’s Medicaid system is near collapse and that the government’s retirement funds are broken.

Wasn’t the state’s Medicaid system and its retirement fund likewise in need of fixing when Quinn was elected in 2010?   What has Quinn been doing in office since 2008 until now?   Surely Governor Quinn faced the same problems when elected as now. 

Am I such a cynic to believe that Quinn would make positive overtures in a ploy to inform Illinoisans that he understands their pain and what must be done to fix Illinois in light of the election season which is close at hand?   After all, Illinois under the control of the Democratic Party in Springfield hasn’t covered itself with glory.

It is important to note that that some of the details of Quinn’s budget proposal — budget for 2013 fiscal year begins July 1, 2012 — can be significantly changed by lawmakers, which did happen to a degree in 2012, if legislators decide that Quinn wants to spend too much in FY 2013. 

To bide time with Illinoisans, what did Quinn do?  He kicked the can down the road by indicating that committees would be formed to study both Medicaid and Pension reform, asking that reports with recommendations be returned by April 17, a date that falls after the Illinois Primary on March 20.

As reported in the Pantagraph on Thursday, February 23, House Speaker Michale Madigan (D-Chicago) applauded Governor Quinn for laying out the the state’s financial crisis in stark terms.

Speaker Madigan’s claim was refuted by Pat Brady, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, who countered:  “Governor Quinn’s matinee performance was like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”

IL senator Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) had this to say, “The governor seems to be trying very hard to spin an impression that they’re actually cutting spending. . . when in fact the budget is going up.”  

Spending in IL is growing faster than the economy that supports it and significantly more than the rate of inflation.  Just like in a family, when a state spends more than it takes there is trouble.  Illinois is in a heap of big trouble!  

The Illinois Policy Institute, John Tillman, president, can always be counted upon to issue detailed summaries of important event, as was the case in Quinn’s budget address.  

Stated in the opening of the IPI summary is how the governor admitted that the state’s “rendezvous” with realty has arrived, but that Quinn offered few concrete reforms on how to solve these problems. 

Following is the link to the full IPI summary about Quinn’s tax proposal published on February, 23, 2012:

Highlights include:

1.  How spending continues to climb.

2.  The need to reform spending and pay down unpaid bill. Only $162 million is allotted in the FY2013 budget to pay down bills, which is about 3% of the state’s nearly $5.2 billion in unpaid bills!

3.  Pension costs are crowding out agency appropriations and leaving less money for core government services like education, health care, and public safety. 

4.  Pension and Medicaid reform are urgently needed.

5.  Fear that Quinn’s spending plan will cement the January 2011 income tax hike that was intended only to be a “temporary” tax hike.  Last year’s appropriations for Medicaid by the General Assembly fell $1.9 billion sort of what Medicaid actually cost.  Illinois is the only state that intentionally kicks its current medicaid bills into future fiscal years.

6. The quest for new revenue to spend, although the 2011 record tax hike did bring an additional $7 billion into the state coffers.

7.   How the FY2013 budget left Medicaid line items blank in budget document.

8.  Speculation that by the end of this decade unless checked, one out of three Illinoisans will be on Medicaid.  What has been a safety net has ballooned into a safety net for a middle class entitlement.

9.   How new revenue is being sought, even though the 2011 record tax hikes brought in an additional $7 billion in revenues.  It seems like Quinn would rather give sweetheart tax deals to favored corporations that to lower taxes for everyone for an even playing field without special deals or tax credits.

10. The folly of dumping more money into education (the largest expenditure in the budget) with worsening results, while not embracing reforms such as charter schools and other forms of parental choice.

Governor Quinn ended his address with:  “And together we will make the will of the people the law of the land.” 

To which came this response from the Illinois Policy Institute:  “If Gov. Quinn is truly concerned about the will of the people, he would focus on repealing the 2011 income tax hike.”

According to a January 2012 poll referred by the Illinois Policy Institute, 68% of voters opposed the income tax hike, and 53% of Illinois voters believed the tax hike should be repealed immediately.

What does Illinois need to fix its problem as the state continue to fall off the cliff to its total demise..  The answer is obvious.  Illinoisans have the chance to vote principled candidates who know what must be done to turn IL around and who will work tirelessly to do so. 

This article will be followed shortly with Part two in which I’ll recommend two such principled and qualified individuals.  One is running to replace retiring Democrat representative Karen May in the 58th District, Dr. Mark Neerhof.  The other is Dr. Arie Friedman who is running unopposed to replace retiring Susan Garrett (D-29).

Dr. Mark Neerhof does have a Republican challenger, Lauren Turelli, also of Lake Forest.  As further clarification of an article regarding LaurenTurelli that was published at Illinois Review earlier in February, through a FOIA submitted to the City of Lake Forest, I found that Lauren also misrepresented her educational background in applying for a job she still holds on the Lake Forest Parks and Rec Board. 

Lauren was caught again noting that she held a M. Phil. degree in International Relations from Cambridge University in England. 


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