Quinn budget long on cuts, short on details

July 1, 2010 4:30:46 PM PDT
Governor Pat Quinn signed a state budget Thursday that contains the biggest deficit in history.

Quinn slashed $1.4 billion from state spending, but it's not enough to cover the shortfall. While the new state budget may be long on cuts, the governor was a little short on details during his press conference.

After saying he reviewed the $25 billion spending plan, the governor said he could not yet specify where he would cut spending. He reminded reporters the General Assembly--in its spring decision not to make line-by-line reductions in appropriations--had given the governor wide digression to make cuts where he sees fit.

"This is a day-by-day, case-by-case, agency-by-agency, program-by-program enterprise," said Gov. Quinn.

All Quinn would guarantee is that during the budget year he would reduce state spending by $1.4 billion. Cuts include:

  • $241 million in P-12 education
  • $96 million in higher education
  • $185 million in healthcare and human services
  • $57 million in public safety
  • Republican State Senator Matt Murphy said Quinn was given the same power to make cuts last year and did not.

    "I don't have confidence that he's going to make the cuts necessary to bring this budget into constitutional balance," said Sen. Matt Murphy, (R) Palatine.

    Quinn's budget director David Vaught said the proposed cuts would reduce the state's running deficit from $13 billion down to $12 billion. The shortfall includes nearly $6 billion worth of unpaid bills.

    "That's the latest number and we believe it's accurate," said Vaught.

    Reporters asking for details at the news conference were told no specifics. However, the human service secretary was the most specific when she said no mentally disabled people would lose their homes despite the possible $35 million cut related to housing programs.

    "The care for people who have mental illness who are in residential care making sure that those people are not put out on the streets has been a priority of the governor as well as the department of human services," said Michelle Saddler, Human Services Secretary.

    The governor and the cabinet who joined him would not say which Illinois residents might lose their services. They spoke only in general terms.

    "This year we intend to make our Medicaid program more efficient, getting more for less," said Julie Hamos, Healthcare and Family Services.

    On the governor's planned cuts to higher education, the University of Illinois' newly-appointed president says less state funding increases the time it takes students to graduate.

    "They're paying the highest price they can possibly which is an extra semester or an extra year in college," said Michael Hogan, University of Illinois.

    An administration spokeswoman told ABC 7 specific budget cuts will be announced later this summer after Governor Quinn, who is up for election in November, consults with individual department heads.

    "Somebody's got to do it and I'm the governor. And we're gonna get it done in a way that preserves our economic recovery," said Quinn.


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