Dueling State Budget Plan Expected This Week

Despite years of cuts to the Illinois state budget … even more are ahead.  Legislators are still deciding where else they can slash spending.

“Human services” is a legislative phrase Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) says covers:

HARRIS: “All the state departments  dealing with health care, senior services, children services, so the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, Medicaid, human services, mental health, substance abuse, Department of Aging, DCFS, public health and veterans… ”

A lot of things, Harris says, that touch people’s lives every day.

Harris chairs the House committee in charge of human services spending.

He says legislators are considering whacking $770 million from the budget introduced by Governor Pat Quinn, taking spending below last year’s levels.

Harris says it’s a difficult task – entire departments could be eliminated and it still wouldn’t save enough.

Legislators are expected to begin unveiling their budget proposals this week, with the Senate and House drafting competing plans.   The Senate, for example, is expected to fight against cuts to education.  Another complicating factor is finding money to pay back raises that union employees negotiated in their new contract.

The chambers have until the end of the month to reconcile. The General Assembly’s scheduled to adjourn May 31.

-Amanda Vinicky

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