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Governor Rauner Chooses Reckless Cuts

This week, Governor Rauner released a reckless, cuts-only budget that would do enormous harm to Illinois’ children, families, and communities. The Governor’s failure to propose any new revenues to address the current budget crisis — caused largely by the recent 25-percent cut to income tax rates — takes Illinois in the wrong direction. This failure is even more notable given that just last fall he supported more than $700 million in new revenues.

To make up for the loss of nearly $6 billion due to  the income tax cuts, Rauner proposed slashing large swaths of the state budget for fiscal year 2016, which begins July 1.

Cuts to Services for Children, Families, and Communities

The governor proposed deep cuts across a wide range of areas affecting kids, families, and communities. The following are selected areas that were cut in his proposal.

Child Care and Early Intervention Services

In a departure from longstanding practice, Governor Rauner did not include specifics about where he would spend money at the Department of Human Services (DHS), which serves some of the state’s most vulnerable residents. Rather, he requested lump sum amounts for DHS divisions — Development Disabilities, Family and Community Services, Mental Health, Rehabilitation Services, and Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. Despite the inadequate detail, Governor Rauner indicated the following broad cuts in his budget narrative and agency presentations:

  • Denying Families Child Care Assistance: The proposal would make it so that children over 5 years old could no longer begin receiving child care assistance. Over time, this change would result in potentially over 60,000 children losing access, making it much more difficult for working parents to stay employed.
  • Increasing Child Care Copayments: The proposal would increase family copayments for the third time in five years. This would make child care less affordable for families and make it harder for them to meet other critical needs.
  • Restricting Eligibility for Early Intervention Services: The proposal includes deep funding cuts to Early Intervention, which provides a broad array of services and support for families with children under age 3 who have disabilities or developmental delays.

Due to the lack of details, other cuts within DHS may well be hidden from public view. The Rauner Administration refused to distribute agency presentations on cuts when they released the budget. Instead, officials indicated they would delay the release of materials until next week.

Education

The Governor’s proposal includes a modest increase to General State Aid (6%), which funds K-12 education, and the Early Childhood Block Grant (8%), which funds preschool programs as well as services for infants and toddlers. However, without adequate revenue, these increases are funded by cutting other programs. Thirteen State Board of Education service areas are simply eliminated, including funding for:

  • Advanced Placement programs that help kids get a head start on college and can save families money.
  • Agricultural education that is crucial to Illinois’ rural communities and agricultural economy.
  • Arts and foreign language education that is also important for admission to many colleges.
  • After School Matters, a Chicago-area afterschool program renowned for its success helping children learn more in a safe environment.

Afterschool

Funding for other services that help children learn and stay safe and healthy after school and at other times when school isn’t in session is decimated under the Governor’s proposal. In addition to cuts to After School Matters, funding for Teen REACH, which supports afterschool programs for disadvantaged youth across the state, would be eliminated. All 14,000 youth in Teen Reach would lose access to programs that promote graduation and college and career readiness, keep youth safe, and connect youth with mentors. These cuts will also make it more difficult for parents to work while ensuring that their children are safe, thereby weakening families’ economic security.

Child Protection and Child Welfare

The Department of Children and Family Services, which is already struggling to fulfill its mission and is facing new lawsuits, would see a 20-percent cut in general funds ($139 million). The agency’s general funds budget would be 36 percent below the FY 2009 level. These cuts would pose serious risks for the most vulnerable children and youth in Illinois.  

Beginning in July, 2,400 young adults aged 18 to 21 would no longer get any help making the difficult transition from foster care to independence. Already strapped for personnel to carry out its mission, DCFS staff would be slashed by over 400 positions (a 17% cut). The proposed budget does not specify how child protection services would be affected.  It is not yet clear how the state can carry out these cuts without once again violating federal law.

Public Health

Proposed cuts include:

  • 71% cut to breast and cervical cancer screenings.
  • 10% cuts to a range of areas including a reporting system to analyze and prevent violent child deaths, family planning, school health centers, infant care services, vision and hearing screening, and grants for immunizations and outreach activities at a time when the nation is facing an upsurge in measles and other childhood diseases.
  • 23% cut to HIV/AIDS education and related services.
  • Elimination of funding for multiple sclerosis, mobile health services, the Violence Prevention Task Force, and the University of Illinois Chicago’s Sickle Cell Clinic.

Higher Education

State funding to public universities is cut by over 30 percent (nearly $400 million), despite Governor Rauner’s earlier recognition that Illinois needs “top universities.” When state funding has declined in the past, universities have increased tuition rates for Illinois residents.

$1.5 Billion in Cuts to Health Care

Illinois Medicaid Spending Is Lowest in the Midwest

Despite the fact that Illinois already has the lowest Medicaid costs per enrollee in the Midwest, Governor Rauner proposed slashing the program. General funds resources for the Department of Healthcare and Family Services would be at the lowest level in more than 10 years.

The Governor’s proposal includes:

  • Cutting access to dental and podiatry services for low-income parents and pregnant women. These services were cut previously, but were restored last year after recognition of the harm to Medicaid patients and increased costs due to hospital emergency room care.
  • Denying kidney transplants to children who need them because they lack immigration authorization from the federal government.
  • Restricting access to prescription drugs for individuals with severe mental illness.
  • Decreasing payments to facilities that care for children on ventilators and to supportive living facilities for children with severe mental illness.
  • Reducing payments to hospitals serving Medicaid populations by $735 billion.
  • Ending assistance to people with hemophilia.

Most of these cuts would cause the loss of significant federal matching dollars to both the state and Illinois hospitals. To learn more about how Medicaid and related programs work and why they are so important, read this recent report from the Fiscal Policy Center.

Cuts to Programs Designed to Save Money on Costly Nursing Home Care

The proposed budget would limit eligibility for the Department on Aging’s Community Care Program, which provides services for seniors who might otherwise need much more expensive nursing home care. The proposal also increases the threshold for need, making it more difficult for seniors to qualify. Additionally, the proposal would decrease Community Care Program services to seniors by one hour per week. According to the Administration, these combined changes to limit program access and reduce services will allow the state to serve seniors “more efficiently.”

Changes to the Home Services Program, which helps individuals with physical disabilities who might otherwise need much more expensive nursing home care, would similarly make it harder to receive needed care.

Cuts to Public Transportation

Governor Rauner proposed slashing funding for the Chicago area’s Regional Transportation Authority, as well as downstate public transit systems. The RTA would lose $127 million in funding, while other transit systems around the state would lose $75 million. This would severely crimp the budgets of public transit systems. Likely consequences would be increased fares and reduced services, both of which would make it more difficult for many state residents, particularly those with low incomes, to get to work.

Cuts to Pension Contributions for State-Funded Retirement Systems

Governor Rauner proposed further changes to pensions that he said would result in $2.2 billion in reduced contributions in FY 2016.  

With the constitutionality of the 2013 pension law in serious doubt, counting on unconfirmed, hypothetical savings from additional benefit reductions that have neither been enacted nor survived court challenges would be very irresponsible. Without the $2.2 billion cut in pension contributions, Governor Rauner would need to decimate additional essential services and investments — or, of course, raise new revenue. 

Cuts to Revenue-Sharing with Local Governments

The state shares responsibility for carrying out many essential services with local governments. Governor Rauner proposed reducing the amount of money shared with local governments by about $1.3 billion.

This proposal simply shifts the state’s budget problems onto local governments, which would then be handcuffed by Rauner’s proposed property tax freeze. Without the ability to replace lost revenue from the state, local governments would need to cut services and investments such as K-12 schools.

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9 Responses to “Governor Rauner Chooses Reckless Cuts”

  1. Indira Buzaljko says:

    It is very sad to learn about all these cuts that are going to affect education, early intervention, health care and communities in all. Early intervention and education are crucial for every human being and if enough is allocated towards education and EI then I am sure less money would be needed for prisons. It was reported that one inmate costs taxpayers over a million per year. It is depressing to know that our society and our governor values and rather invests in correctional facilities and prisons then towards education. The prisons are full of young people who could be productive and self sustained while serving their sentence and the money that is going to correctional facilities would be better spend in education. Shame.

  2. Indira Buzaljko says:

    It is very sad to learn about all these cuts that are going to affect education, early intervention, health care and communities in all. Early intervention and education are crucial for every human being and if enough is allocated towards education and EI then I am sure less money would be needed for prisons. It was reported that one inmate costs taxpayers over a million per year. It is depressing to know that our society and our governor values and rather invests in correctional facilities and prisons then towards education. The prisons are full of young people who could be productive and self sustained while serving their sentence and the money that is going to correctional facilities would be better spend in education. Shame. – See more at: http://www.voices4kids.org/governor-rauner-chooses-reckless-cuts/#comment-32712

  3. Jeanne Gourguechon says:

    This would be a disaster for so many children and their families….EI children can make great strides during therapy and then save tax papers money that is otherwise spent on services for adults with disabilities….EI saves children and saves money.

  4. Pat. West says:

    I strongly urge the Governor to research the mountain of data regardiing nuero development during the first 3 years of life. Those 3 years are where therapy can make an enormous difference. The brain is growing nuero connectors at a rate faster then in any other time in life. By age 2, a child should have at least 100 words and be putting 2 words together. With a 50% delay, that child would have one word and be babbling. The deficit is enormous and should not be allowed to get to that level. There is a strong correlation between having difficulty learning to talk and having difficulty learning to read. I have been providing service for Early Intervention for the past 16 years. There is no doubt in my mind that EI has saved the school districts of this State millions of dollars by addressing speech and language issues early on, and bringing children up to age level by the time they enter school. I understand that the State has to make cuts to the budget. But Early Intervention is NOT the place to cut. In the long term, this service pays for itself.

  5. Jim Patnoudes says:

    You should be ashamed of yourself, Governor Rauner. For the money you spent buying the election you could have funded early education for hundreds of children. Bring back the American Dream. “We must be especially aware of that small group of indivuals that would clip the wings of the American Eagle in order to feather their own nests.” – FDR

    All these tax breaks you have lined up for your rich buddies. Haven’t you learned anything from watching Kansas or Wisconsin?? You have a real opportunity to do some good for the state and you’re worried about defunding programs for children so you can bank an extra $750,000?! How do you sleep at night??

  6. Kathy Estabrooke says:

    Please reconsider Governor!! Early intervention saves so much!! Helps families cope, help the child progress. Not to mention that it’s much cheaper than providing for the children when they become adults.

  7. LaTane Mack says:

    cutting the funding for these programs is terrible in so may ways. I am a person with Sickel Cell Anemia Disease, I’ve been suffering from this sickness since the age of 2. It is very important for me to be able continue to go to the adult clinic for SCD at UIC. It

  8. Please Join our Rally against Rauner’s proposed funding cuts! May 27th in Chicago.

    Thank you for your support.

    https://www.facebook.com/events/439123982928599/

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