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Governor’s Budget Address
On March 6, 2013, Governor Quinn delivered his annual budget address to a joint meeting of the General Assembly. The Governor's proposed budget for fiscal year 2014 (FY14) totals $62.4 billion for all revenue funds, of which $35.6 billion is for the General Revenue Fund (GRF). The proposed GRF amount exceeds the revenue spending cap of $35.08 billion that was approved by the Illinois House of Representatives on March 5.
In his speech, the Governor called this budget honest and difficult. The proposed budget, he said, would address the backlog of unpaid bills, "holds the line on discretionary spending," and would reduce K-12 education by $300 million. To get the State back on sound financial footing, he implored members of the General Assembly to pass pension reform measures for current and former employees.
Many of the proposed budget's recommendations are considered financially possible due to Medicaid restructuring, as well as the consolidation and elimination of state facilities and lease space. As promised during his budget address, the Governor issued an executive order on March 8 to eliminate 75 state boards and commissions that are dormant, redundant, or have completed their work. Additionally, the recent collective bargaining agreement is estimated to save the State more than $900 million in health care costs over the next three years. Although he vetoed gaming legislation early this year, the Governor suggested that if new gaming legislation is proposed, revenues from gaming should be directed to education spending, such as teachers' pensions. In conjunction with that, he also favored suspending cost of living adjustments (COLA) for those with higher pensions until the entire pension system is in balance.
Governor Quinn maintained that paying down the backlog of bills must continue to be a priority. Under the proposed budget, the backlog of unpaid bills would be reduced by nearly $2 billion in the upcoming fiscal year. He proposed suspending three corporate loopholes (Foreign Dividend, Federal Production Activities, and Non-Combination Rule). Monies from these loopholes would be dedicated to a new Bill Payment Trust Fund to address the backlog of unpaid bills. The total proposed GRF contribution for the state's pension payment would be $6.1 billion for FY14, which would include a $929 million increase to fully fund the required pension payment in FY14.
After asserting that many tough decisions were made in the FY14 proposed budget and urging legislators to send him a pension reform solution, the Governor briefly outlined his budget priorities. These include preserving funding for early childhood education, Monetary Award Program scholarships, veterans' services, mental health, and state police. Various budget documents prepared by the Office of Management and Budget are available at www.budget.illinois.gov, including a list of associated performance measures and indicators for each of the agencies.
In reference to infrastructure, Governor Quinn highlighted the recently passed Supplemental Appropriations Public Act 98-0001, which will invest $700 million in roads and bridges. In addition, his proposed budget will invest $500 million in public transit for northeastern Illinois through the 2009 Jump Start Capital Plan.
The proposed FY14 operating budget recommended $2.71 billion for the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), which would include a $6 million appropriation for Metropolitan Planning and Research Purposes. This would fund CMAP and the other metropolitan planning organizations statewide. Of $21.336 billion budgeted for capital appropriations in the proposed FY14 budget, IDOT would be allocated $14.12 billion under the proposed budget.
The proposed FY14 operating budget recommended $269 million for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). In December 2012, the State passed Public Act 97-1136, the IDNR sustainability funding bill, to secure non-GRF funding to support parks, natural areas, and programs.
Appropriations committees in the House and Senate began budget hearings this week, which will continue through early May. Below are the dates for IDOT and INDR budget hearings:
Illinois Department of Transportation
Wednesday, April 17: House Appropriations/Public Safety
Thursday, May 2: Senate Appropriations II
Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Wednesday, April 17: House Appropriations/General Services
Thursday, May 2: Senate Appropriations II