When Illinois lawmakers voted last month to fill a gaping hole in the current year's budget, they used the word "painful" to describe their action.

In approving the fix, they gave Gov. Bruce Rauner the ability to close a $1.6 billion gap in spending by cutting state agencies by 2.25 percent and sweeping money out of special state funds.

The move was met with distress from local social service agencies, school districts and universities.

Those on the front lines outlined the real effects of the Legislature's action.

In places like Bloomington, the cuts will mean a reduction in services to homeless youth.

Universities will reduce maintenance on buildings and grounds and forego certain equipment purchases in response to the move.

The Egyptian Area Agency on Aging, which provides services to seniors in 13 southern Illinois counties, will combat the cuts by serving an estimated 1,000 fewer meals between now and the end of the fiscal year, said Executive Director John Smith said last week.

"There's nothing else we could do," Smith said.

The word from within Team Rauner, however, was not about pain.

Despite two attempts to extract details of what $23 million in cuts would mean for the Department on Aging, a spokeswoman offered up no specifics.

"The Department on Aging will continue to provide services to seniors at a high level within the budget," spokeswoman Alissandra Calderon noted in an email.

At the Illinois State Police, which is losing $5.5 million, spokeswoman Clare Pfotenhauer said the agency will "absorb the decrease" without affecting daily operations.

Further, despite sweeping $4 million from the fund dedicated to paying for new police cars, the Illinois State Police say there won't be a problem.

The state ordered 72 Ford Police Interceptors earlier this fiscal year to replace nearly all of the high mileage cars in its fleet -- before the "painful" legislative action on the budget.

"No ISP fleet pipeline orders were cancelled as a result of the FY15 budget fix," state police spokesman Matt Boerwinkle said.

At other agencies, there was simply no explanation offered about what the reductions might mean.

At the Department of Public Health and other agencies, officials offered no specifics.

"Impacts are still being determined," wrote IDPH spokeswoman Melaney Arnold in an email.

Which brings us back to the so-called "painful" vote taken by lawmakers last month to close the budget gap.

You have free articles remaining.

Become a Member

That vote was based on closing a $1.6 billion hole.

Given his administration's stance that the cuts can be dealt with, what will they say when they face $6 billion in reductions in next year's budget?

Nothing to see here? Move along?

Cutting bait

Count Illinois anglers among the casualties of the state's budget crunch.

State purchasing documents show the state has cancelled a contract to print the state's fishing regulations.

"The state can no longer reasonably expect to fund the procurement," the notice reads.

Records show the guide cost about $151,000 to print during its last run.

Fishermen concerned about the rules can still find them online at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website.

Travel on hold 

Speaking of fishing, the governor said last week he was planning to visit Texas, Wisconsin and Indiana to try and lure businesses in those states to Illinois.

But don't look for Rauner to head out on the road anytime soon. A spokeswoman said he first wants to score some legislative victories designed to make Illinois more business friendly.

"The governor is focused squarely on Illinois and implementing his Turnaround Agenda. Once that happens, he plans to visit other states like Indiana, Wisconsin and Texas to recruit businesses and jobs to Illinois," Catherine Kelly said in an email last week.

Team Durkin

House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, put the finishing touches on his leadership team last week when he named state Rep. Adam Brown as the new House GOP conference chairman.

Brown, R-Champaign, is a former Decatur city councilman who was elected to the House in 2010.

"Adam is a hard-working legislator who serves his district well and is well-liked by his peers," said Durkin.

Other members of Durkin's inner circle include assistant majority leaders Dan Brady of Bloomington and Bill Mitchell of Forsyth.

"Being a part of the Republican leadership team will enable me to have a greater say on issues important to my district and my constituents," said Brown.

Follow Kurt Erickson on Twitter @Illinois_Stage


Load comments