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Governor Quinn's FY13 budget

Gov. Quinn's budget proposal, presented February 22, 2012, represents another year of difficult spending decisions that will impact Illinoisans throughout the state. While the budget includes several harmful cuts to low-income populations, it offers a few bright spots in education and in the transition from institutional care to community-based providers.

OThe Governor's proposed $33.9 billion budget for fiscal year 2013, which starts in July, is a 0.15% increase over last fiscal year. At the same time, general revenue funding is less than in 2008 and spending through the general revenue fund is cut $425 million for FY13.

In his budget address, Gov. Quinn emphasized pension and Medicaid reform. Pension costs have grown to $5.2 billion, 15% of the budget and a $1 billion increase over last year. He suggested cutting Medicaid, the health care program for low-income Illinoisans, by $2.7 billion to restructure a system facing its own backlog of bills. He did not layout the details for reforms in either of these areas but set deadlines for recommendations in both by various committees and working groups in the legislature to take action before the end of the session in May.

The picture for the Department of Human Services (DHS), which funds nonprofit providers, is somewhat mixed. An increase in state funding outside the general revenue fund would increase DHS's budget by 3.4% to an overall $5.9 billion. But program adjustments and a new mix of spending actually result in a $2.2 million reduction in general revenue funding spending.

About $300 million in cut from DHS's budget comes from programs in childcare, youth development and services to children with disabilities and in a reduction for emergency and transitional housing. Twenty-four DHS offices around the state will be shuttered to save money through consolidation.

Gov. Quinn's spending plan includes a $163 million surplus - the difference between revenue and expenditures - that could be used to help pay down the state's $8 billion backlog in unpaid bills to service providers. Quinn did not mention in his speech borrowing money to pay back bills as he did last year.

On the bright side, education funding received a boost in the Governor's proposal. The Early Childhood Block Grant, which funds the Preschool for All program, would get $20 million in additional funding to brings its total to just over $345 million. That added amount would restore funding cut over the past two years.

The Governor's support for transitioning people from state-run institutions to community-based providers aligns with our position on the best model for care. Gov. Quinn's budget proposal calls for the closing of several institutions, including mental health hospitals and developmental disability centers.

In his speech, Gov. Quinn said: "The approach we are taking to rebalance our system will allow for the safe and smart transition to community care settings for some of our most vulnerable citizens."

Likewise, Gov. Quinn applauded the work of the Budgeting for Results Commission, which is working to help the state adopt a performance-based budget. United Way has played a critical role in the work of this commission. For more information about the Governor's budget proposal, there are several resources on the state's Budget website. From this point, the General Assembly will work to adopt a budget before the end of session in May. Stay tuned . . .