Please allow me to vent briefly on the "Good Friday Massacre" -- the $26 million in social service cuts issued April 3 by Gov. Bruce Rauner.
The big news Thursday was that Illinois tax revenue is coming in $300 million to $500 million better than expected, so Rauner has restored funding to the programs cut four weeks ago.
Without question, this is good news. The April 3 cuts arrived without warning and caused turmoil for parents of children with autism, people with epilepsy, parents who relied on after-school programs, and a long list of others. If you want to get an idea of the terror this news caused to some of those affected, take a look at this video of a mother of two severely autistic children for whom The Autism Project had become the lone island of hope for her kids.
The unexpected $26 million in cuts came after Rauner and the Democrats who control the General Assembly agreed on a plan to give Rauner extraordinary budgeting power to fill a $1.6 billion hole in the current state budget, which runs through June 30.
I will now commence venting.
Most of that hole -- $1.3 billion -- was filled by "sweeping" unused special funds that are tucked away in the state budget. As my colleague Madeleine Doubek reported this week, there are nearly 800 of these "special funds" and they held more than $9 billion last week after some, but not all, of the sweeping occurred. They are designated for use on everything from salmon and pheasant protection ($80,000 and $1.9 million, respectively) to radiation protection ($2.5 million).
Are you telling me that the governor and his budget staff could not manage to find another $26 million from this pool of $9 billion? That the ONLY way to fix the 2015 budget -- passed last year by Democrats who knew it would cause the very problem it caused -- was to cut programs that provided direct help to some of the most vulnerable people in the state? That these particular programs, comprising .2 percent of the $1.3 billion that was swept from the special funds, simply could not be spared?
If you are telling me that, I don't believe you, and I don't think the people of Illinois should miss what happened over the last month.
Read the rest at Reboot Illinois.
Reboot Illinois' Madeleine Doubek appeared on WTTW's Chicago Tonight April 30 to discuss another aspect of the state's budget, the $9 billion worth of special funds tucked into state spending records.
Check it out here:
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