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House Restores Budget Cuts, Affirms Strong Ethics Law

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On September 10, the Illinois House of Representatives voted with strong bipartisan majorities to restore many of the Governor's most devastating cuts to the human services, aging, natural resource and law enforcement budgets. Also, the House overrode the Governor's veto of the ethics legislation banning "pay-to-play" contributions by State contractors. The House also authorized leasing of the State lottery in a complicated, tightly controlled transaction to fund capital spending. Due to the complexity of the lottery lease bill, I will write a separate update on that issue next week, so that I can go into greater detail.

The big news for Illinois communities was the restoration of over $214 million dollars in vital public services that the Governor had cut in his recent scorched earth veto program. The restorations by the House bring the following programs back up to their FY08 funding levels:

• $4.85 million for supportive housing, mental health transport, child & adolescent MI programs and community transitions.

• $1.4 million for the Autism program, quality assurance and community transitions for developmentally disabled individuals.

• $28 million to prevent rate reductions to Intermediate Care Facility providers for the developmentally disabled.

• $55 million to restore substance abuse and treatment fund for community based services, welfare recipients and special populations.

• $1.9 million for the Great Start program.

• $1.7 million for community health programs including infant mortality prevention, After School Youth programs, Family Planning Programs, domestic violence shelters and Teen Parent Services.

• $663,00 for services to youth including homeless youth.

• $4 million for supportive housing for the mentally ill.

• $1 million for the Elder Abuse and Neglect program.

• $15 million for Foster Homes and Specialized Foster Care.

• $5.4 million for DCFS psychiatric screening.

• $8.1 million for restoring DCFS staff cuts.

• Restoration of funds for the Attorney General, Secretary of State and Treasurer to restore staffing to FY08 levels.

• $2.8 million for the DFI scholarships.

• $300,000 for International Center of Deafness.

• $2.4 million to prevent layoffs at the Historic Preservation Agency

You may see the entire list of funds restored by SB1103 here:

Funds for the restorations of cuts made by the Governor came from sweeping surplus balances out of a variety of special state funds. The House budget and research staffs did a careful analysis of the various fund balances, annual expenditures and income, and determined that sweeping some of the surplus funds would be appropriate and not jeopardize performance of the funds for their stated purpose. The listing of funds swept and the amounts may be seen here in SB790:

The House also authorized utilization of General Revenue Funds (GRF) to restore some of the Governor's most devastating cuts to healthcare, hospitals, senior programs and human services. These restorations include:

• $285 million to maintain the payment cycle for hospitals, nursing homes and pharmacists.

• $15 million to maintain the payment cycle for hospice care, home health care, laboratories, etc.
• $25 million for the Community Care Program for seniors.

• $20 million for Intermediate Care Facilities for DD populations.

• $5.5 million to prevent closure of state parks.

A complete listing of items restored may be seen here in HB6350:

The actions of the House, although by overwhelming bipartisan majorities, are only the first step in undoing this damage to the State. The Senate must agree to return to Springfield and vote for these bills as well. Then it will be up to the Governor whether he wishes to sign these restorations into law, veto them outright or use his amendatory veto powers to try other 'end-runs' around the General Assembly.

It should be noted here that Wednesday the House voted with a huge majority to override the Governor's veto of the ethics law outlawing 'pay-to-play' campaign contributions. The House also overrode all the Governor's other amendatory vetoes that were part of his so-called re-write to do right campaign. Whether the message is clear or not remains to be seen as he considers these new laws to restore funding cuts.

Very Nice Honors

I am very honored to be accepting awards this Friday from Citizen Action Illinois for my work on progressive public policy, and from Test Positive Aware Network on Saturday for support for people living with HIV/AIDS. Thank you so much!