SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Schools, social services and health programs face deeper cuts under the latest version of Gov. Pat Quinn's plan to trim spending during the worst budget crisis in Illinois history.
Quinn announced early last month that he planned to trim about $1.4 billion but had not finished deciding where. His budget office said Tuesday that the Chicago Democrat has now settled on the remaining cuts.
Programs targeted for reductions include:
_ the Century Network that provides Internet access to schools;
_ group homes for neglected children placed in state care;
_ a wildlife park near Peoria;
_ payments to schools for student transportation and reading programs.
The Department of Healthcare and Family Services, which oversees Medicaid for the poor, will lose $216 million, or about 2.7 percent. Last month, Quinn said the agency would be one of the few getting more money.
The Department of Human Services is being cut by $576 million, about 14 percent. Originally, the department was going to lose just $312 million.
Education spending, from preschool to high school, will be cut by $311 million, or about 4.3 percent. Quinn announced last month that education would be cut by $241 million.
The school cuts include $146 million for student transportation and $68.5 million in reading improvement block grants.
Illinois faces a deficit of roughly $13 billion, the largest in state history. Quinn's cuts reduce that, but there's still a $6 billion gap between expenses and revenue and about $6 billion in unpaid bills from last year.
That shortfall equals half the budget's general funds, where state officials have broad authority to raise or lower spending.
Quinn had wanted to reduce the deficit by raising income taxes, but legislators ignored that idea. They also refused to say where the budget should be cut, leaving that to Quinn.
His office said the latest cuts "reflect Governor Quinn's plan to make major reductions to state spending while prioritizing the tools needed to keep the Illinois economy moving forward."
Quinn posted summaries of the cuts on a state website Monday without any announcement. On Tuesday, his budget office could provide few details about the cuts, many of which are described simply as "efficiencies" and "changes."
"DHS will achieve operating efficiencies through review of contracts and programmatic changes," was one description of $60 million in cuts to facilities for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled.
When specific programs were mentioned – such as the Century Network – it often wasn't clear whether they were being reduced or eliminated entirely.
State support for Wildlife Prairie Park, a 2,000-acre wildlife area, is being eliminated entirely to save $790,000, the budget office said.