Usually when polls are taken about tax hikes, the respondents are "informed" about the benefits of raising more government money, whether it's
for education, public services or what have you. So, not surprisingly, those polls regularly show lots of support for tax increases.
But a recent poll of 800 Illinois voters taken this month on behalf of the Illinois Coalition for Jobs, Growth & Prosperity, a business group, only
asked whether Illinoisans favored raising taxes to balance the state's budget.
Since the state is in such a deep hole, that's pretty much all any tax hike will go for anyway - and it won't even fully accomplish that. And since
most people don't pay a great deal of attention to state government, that's all they probably know about the tax hike plan anyway.
So, the results probably won't surprise you.
A whopping 73 percent opposed hiking taxes to balance the budget, while only 23 percent supported the concept.
According to the poll, 82 percent of Illinoisans believe that the governor and lawmakers have not done enough to control state spending. That's also
not a surprising number. Very few governments ever do "enough" to control spending.
The poll asked lots of questions about forcing someone else to bear the brunt of the multi billion dollar budget deficit nightmare this state faces.
Cut pension benefits for newly hired state workers? 72 percent agreed. Force the state employees union to reopen its contract and renegotiate
pay raises? 74 percent said "Heck yes." Require unpaid furloughs for state employees? 65 percent were on board. Make state workers pay more for health
care? 65 percent wanted it. Roll back Medicaid eligibility a bit? 72 percent were for it.
The survey asked just one specific question about "shared sacrifice." Human beings tend to want somebody else to carry the load, so the answer to
this question wasn't all that amazing, either.
"Would you support closing state facilities like aged prisons, state parks, historic sites until the state's finances improve?" the pollster asked.
"No" was the overwhelming response. Almost three-quarters, 74 percent, said they don't want those facilities to close during the budget meltdown.
Well, too bad.
You can't come close to balancing the budget - currently estimated at $9.2 billion in the hole - even if the General Assembly enacted all the
spending reforms so widely supported in that poll. It would barely make a dent.
The only real way to close that gaping hole is to do the things that three-quarters of Illinoisans don't want, and a whole lot more.
I assume that if voters were asked the same question about closing down rape treatment centers, drug abuse rehab facilities, scholarship funds
for college students and programs for autistic and handicapped children the "No" responses might be even higher.
What about daycare for financially strapped single mothers struggling to get on their feet? Home care for the elderly? The "No" responses
would probably be off the charts.
We assume that because we live in the richest nation in the world that devastating governmental shut-downs like those listed above shouldn't
happen and couldn't happen.
Unfortunately, times have changed. Gross mismanagement by Rod Blagojevich (a governor who was elected twice, by the way) and the worst
economic climate since the Great Depression mean that one of two things has to happen:
1) Those programs and facilities listed above and many, many more are going to have to be shut down; or
2) Taxes will have to be raised and many of those programs might still have to be shuttered because the budget hole is so big.
I keep seeing newspaper editorials, columnists and letters to the editor practically begging for some sort of magic solution to this problem.
Can't something be done without raising taxes and still preserve vital programs and public facilities?
You have to cut where the spending is.
There is no magic bullet. President Barack Obama has said the states aren't getting any more bailouts. Our state Constitution, which Illinois
voters overwhelmingly refused to change last year, requires a balanced budget.
The current worldwide recession is having an impact on fund raising abilities of charitable organizations everywhere. Your Court
Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) organization of the 15th Judicial Circuit serving Lee, Carroll and Ogle Counties is no different.
Currently CASA is working with 130 children in the three county areas with the services of 42 volunteer advocates. Each of these children has
been adjudged to have been abused and/or neglected through no fault of their own. There are currently an additional 51 children waiting for a CASA
volunteer to be assigned to their case.
The advocates working these cases have donated 308 hours of their time and have driven 3,020 miles in the month of April 2009 alone in process
of visiting their assigned children, attending court hearings, meetings, and various staffings with DCFS and other children and family counseling groups.
To support this level of working activity CASA continues an active advocate recruiting and training program. CASA places ads in local
newspapers asking for interested individuals to contact us for an interview as a possible advocate. Advocates receive approximately 30 hours of training before
being assigned their first case.
From these numbers and the support that it receives from the juvenile judges of the three county areas it is clear that the CASA organization of the
15th Judicial Circuit is a needed, active and thriving operation worthy of the communities' active support.
CASA like any active organization serving the community requires funding. In hard times like these that funding is more important than ever
and harder to find. It is to be hoped that charitable individuals and organizations will continue their support of CASA being as liberal as possible as CASA
faces ever growing demands on its time and staff. Individuals or organizations interested in supporting CASA or individuals interested in becoming
advocates should contact Vanessa White, Director of Advocate Services (CASA 15th Judicial Circuit - Lee/Ogle/Carroll Counties) at (815) 288-1901.
Lee/Carroll/Ogle CASA Board Member
Congress Following, NOT Representing
The national debate over climate change has been ongoing for several years, and during this time the United States imposed stricter controls
over industry and automobile emissions to reduce greenhouse gases.
The House of Representatives on Friday, June 26th passed more legislation that will control industry and utilities by providing credits for polluting
less, and charging for polluting more, based on the bill's complex regulations that intend to reduce pollution (H.R. 2454)- if it passes through the Senate and
is signed into law. I am not here to say that there is or there isn't global warming, or if this bill would be helpful or harmful to America, but I do have
questions about how this bill was passed through the House, which is now pending in the Senate.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claim that the tax bill will only increase consumer's costs
by approximately the price of a postage stamp per day after several years - but only when you include tax rebates. That may not sound so terrible, but what
if you do not qualify for a rebate or credit because you make too much money, or you own a business that is affected by this bill? How much then will this
all cost you, your business, or the business you are employed by? Did the CBO consider the impact if companies send jobs overseas because of the
costs associated with compliance, or are they basing their estimates solely on what the bill claims?
You can ask the 219 Congressmen that voted for H. R. 2454 (Cap and Trade Carbon Tax) - they will know, right? The final draft of the bill
was presented for debate that lasted for three hours. The bill was not read in the House of Representatives before or during the debate, and the final bill
that passed is not the same bill that was approved by Committee (amendments included early Friday morning). Could these representatives have actually
read the final draft in three hours? Did the media have enough time to sort through it and report on it? Did the American people get an opportunity to
understand it and voice their opinions?
If these representatives can read 400 pages in an hour, then maybe (the bill is about 1200 pages)! In the measure that passed the House, the bill
was noted as "considered read". Therefore, I suppose you should read the 1200 page bill yourself because apparently, those 219 representatives don't care if
you or they know the facts or not.
This is an example of our "leaders" in Washington seeming to be followers for the most part - just following the leaders (Speaker Pelosi,
President Obama, Rep. Henry Waxman and former Vice President Al Gore) without having any real debate, without knowing what this bill really includes,
and certainly not taking any reasonable amount of time to be able to consider and debate its total economic affects in any meaningful manner. Is it the
only measure that passed in a similar manner? Check the Library of Congress to see for yourself, because it is not.
A concern that many have, which may be correct or incorrect, is that this legislation will over time, increase the cost of utilities, gasoline , food, etc.
for consumers and business, which could lead to further inflation while forcing business out of the country. Yes, perhaps additional "green" jobs will be
created here, but how many, and how many non-green jobs will be eliminated and/or transferred to another country that does not have such regulations? Did
the CBO and EPA take this thought into account? Will the affect of this legislation be a benefit as is claimed, or is all of this based on something else?
Something like simple irresponsibility? Something like making assumptions? Something like self-serving interests? I do not know with certainty, but
the manner in which the House passed this "landmark" bill is suspect.
One thing that is interesting is how Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has been such an advocate for transparency in the House of Representatives
so that Americans know what is going on behind closed doors, so-to-speak. Yet, most of us did not know about the Cap and Trade Carbon Tax bill and its
entire content and impact, and many do not know about Pelosi's involvement with a company called Clean Energy Fuels and how much money she will be
making as a result of this energy bill, or how Del Monte, of which her husband apparently owns an estimated $70 million in stock, benefited from lower taxes in
her Congressional District (when other companies had to pay more)? If Pelosi was all about transparency, then why hasn't she disclosed these interests,
and why has no one heard of these? If there is not total disclosure, then doesn't that lead for room for corruption, and can she truly serve the public
interests while at the same time serve her own interests? How about Al Gore and his interests in businesses that will benefit if this bill is signed into law? The others?
Does anyone care? The mainstream media certainly has not reported on it.
If you feel that this legislation is necessary, that is fine again, I am not arguing this point. The real question is, can you honestly say that three
hours was enough time to thoroughly debate and disclose a 1200 page bill that includes such major policy changes, and that this vote was responsible? If you
feel that this bill might hurt the American people, that is fine also. If this is your view, then you probably feel even more so that the American people
If nothing else, now is the time to call (or email) both of your U. S. Senators and tell them how you feel about responsibility. In Illinois, Senator
Durbin is at (202) 224-2152. Senator Burris is at (202) 224-2854. Tell them both how you feel about this bill. Tell them that you demand substantial time to
debate and really assess the affect of this legislation over time. Tell them that if they do not do so, you will vote for one of their opponents at the next election.
Tell your Representative and Senators that if other legislation is passed in this same manner in the future, you will not vote for them. As for the other 212
voters in the House who voted "nay" I cannot say if they voted in this manner because it otherwise would be irresponsible, but now might be the time to thank
them for being more responsible.
On Monday, I wrote variations of the following to the White House, to Speaker Pelosi, to Rep. Waxman, Rep. Markey and Rep. Manzullo: "I
am concerned about the manner in which HR 2454 passed the House of Representatives. The final draft of approximately 1200 pages of the bill was
released early Friday morning, and voted on Friday as well. How can the Representatives of the American people say that passing such a major bill in such
little time, with three hours of debate, be responsible representation? I can also ask this question of other bills passed in the same manner. I think a
substantiated answer is due to every American citizen. I look forward to your substantiated reply as soon as possible. Thank you."
If you have not done so already, now is the time to be a responsible citizen, take fifteen minutes to contact your Congressmen every few days or
weeks, and sacrifice this small part of your daily life to be part of the greater voice. And truly, get out and vote at the next election, and every election thereafter!
If not, then please do not complain later on if we have to face consequences as a result of inaction and our so-called leaders being irresponsible. We
are ultimately responsible for what happens in our country because of whom we elect.
Mike Kocal, A Concerned Citizen, Lanark, Illinois
Manzullo: Cap and Tax will Devastate U.S. Manufacturing, Put Millions More Americans on
Congressman will vote against job-killing bill, support pro-energy alternative
Washington, Jun 26 -
Congressman Don Manzullo (R-IL) will vote against the job-killing cap and tax bill when it comes to the House floor later today because it will
give foreign companies a huge competitive advantage over American manufacturers, putting 2.5 million more Americans out of work without ensuring a
cleaner environment for future generations.
The legislation puts severe limits on energy usage in the United States and could double or triple energy costs for most American
manufacturers, putting them at a huge disadvantage with their competitors from China, India and other foreign countries not required to comply with such limits. A
study by the National Black Chamber of Commerce estimates the bill would devastate U.S. manufacturers, causing many to go overseas to avoid the energy
taxes and putting 2.5 million Americans out of work by 2030.
Manzullo attempted to amend the bill to eliminate the International Climate Change Adaptation Program, which would give companies in China,
India and other "developing nations" up to 4 percent of the overall allowable carbon credits, taking them away from U.S. manufacturers and forcing
American companies to essentially pay for the continued pollution of their primary competitors in China and India. Democrat House leaders would not even
allow Manzullo's amendment to come to the floor for a vote.
In addition, the energy caps will cause the price of American-made products to surge along with the utility bills of American families. President
Obama himself while on the campaign trail last year said his cap and trade bill would cause electricity rates to "necessarily skyrocket."
"At a time when unemployment is over 10 percent in northern Illinois and many employers are struggling to survive, this misguided cap and tax
bill will put millions more Americans out of work and surge utility costs for all Americans. And amazingly, it will not ensure a cleaner environment for
future generations because the biggest polluters in the world China and India have indicated their desire to keep the pedal to the floor and continue
polluting at will," Manzullo said "Some scientists even say that if we completely eliminated all carbon emissions from the United States tomorrow, China and
India would replace all of it in the atmosphere within 10 years. This is mind-boggling."
Manzullo supports alternative legislation that promotes innovation, conservation, and responsible production of energy as a way to achieve
America's energy independence and a cleaner, healthier planet.
The American Energy Innovation Act represents a fiscally responsible approach to reducing our dependence on foreign energy, providing a
cleaner environment, and putting Americans to work by:
Encouraging innovation within the energy market to create the renewable fuel options and energy careers of tomorrow.
Promoting greater conservation and efficiency by providing incentives for easing energy demand and creating a cleaner, more sustainable
Increasing the production of American energy by responsibly utilizing all available resources and technologies and streamlining burdensome
Braley Opening Statement at Energy and Commerce Markup on American Clean Energy and
Rep. Braley gave an opening statement at the Energy and Commerce Committee Hearing on the American Clean Energy and Security Act.
Washington, DC - Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) made the following opening statement at the Energy and Commerce Committee's markup hearing
on the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act. The ACES Act is a major piece of energy legislation that will invest in clean, renewable
energy, create jobs, and reduce America's output of carbon emissions:
"Thank you, Chairman Waxman, for holding this markup.
"I commend you for your efforts on H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act. Addressing climate change and energy independence
are two of the greatest challenges facing us. I know it's taken a lot of work and consensus to try to come up with language that balances the needs of
individuals and businesses, and I am pleased that you have brought so many people to the table from diverse industries and interest groups to put together
"I am encouraged by several provisions included within this bill to promote clean energy jobs. This legislation should be seen as an opportunity to
put in place a green industry within the United States. We should take advantage of our world-class education system to make sure we have adequately
trained workers for careers in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and climate change mitigation.
"I am also glad that this legislation now includes "cash for clunkers" language. This language, which is similar to language I introduced along
with Congresswoman Betty Sutton earlier this year, provides $3000 to $7500 incentives to buy more fuel-efficient cars or trucks. It is a win-win-win
situation: it will boost our economy, save families money, and decrease our dependence on foreign oil.
"The bill also includes language that I introduced with Congressman Peter Welch to establish the Retrofit for Energy and Environmental
Performance (REEP) Program, which sets energy and environmental building retrofit policies for both residential and commercial buildings and can have a huge
impact on reducing energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions.
"I am proud that Iowa is now second in the nation in wind generation. Iowa's success story is further evidence that investment in renewable energy
is working. Iowa is home to six wind manufacturing companies representing thousands of green collar jobs and an investment of nearly a quarter of a
billion dollars in our state. Iowa now has the installed capacity of over 2,700 MW. This amount of wind generation will provide about 18% of Iowa's
total electricity needs.
"We can all benefit from investments in wind energy and other renewables through newly created jobs and industries, cheaper energy, cleaner
skies, and a reduced dependence on foreign oil. While I would have liked to see a larger percentage of allowances in this bill allocated towards renewables,
I understand there were a lot of competing interests for these allowances and this legislation still goes a long ways towards increased renewables deployment.
"There is also language in place that will keep in balance energy costs for low- and middle-income Americans. In fact, 60% of all the allowances
from this bill will help consumers. This includes 35% of allowances to the electricity sector that will provide protection from price increases. Local natural
gas distribution companies will receive 9% of the allowances which they must use to protect consumers, and states will receive 1.5% of allowances to
benefit users of home heating oil and propane. Additionally, 15% of allowances will be distributed through tax credits and payments to low- and
moderate-income households. It is essential we protect consumers, especially during these tough economic times.
"Farmers in my District can also play a key role in reducing carbon emissions. According to this legislation, the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) is to write regulations for certifying, maintaining, and trading offsets. I hope they'll see the benefits that farmers can provide through carbon
capture and sequestration and in reducing carbon emissions through offset projects such as use of methane digesters and no-till farming.
"I am encouraged by the progress that has taken place on this legislation and its potential for ending our dependence on foreign energy, protecting
the environment for future generations, and making the transformation to a clean energy economy. The energy revolution has begun. We need your help
to make it a reality."
House GOP: "The American People Have a Right to Know" About Speaker Pelosi's "Biggest
June 27, Washington -
The American people deserve to know what's in the legislation their representatives in Congress are voting on. That was the fundamental
principle behind Rep. Boehner's hour-long speech on the floor of the House last night, in which he read portions of a 300-plus page amendment Democrats added
in the dark of night to Speaker Pelosi's already 1,200-page national energy tax legislation.
The legislation is going to raise electricity prices, increase gasoline prices, and ship American jobs overseas to countries like China and India. It
also will be a bureaucratic nightmare overseen by a confusing web of government agencies that will take and redistribute trillions of dollars from family
budgets and workers' payrolls. Following is just a sampling of the national media's coverage of Boehner's unprecedented speech and the House GOP's
stand against the Democrats' costly, jobs-killing national energy tax:
Buffalo News: "Rep. John Boehner, the House Republican leader, used an extraordinary one-hour speech shortly before the final vote to warn
of unintended consequences in what he said was a 'defining bill.' He called it a 'bureaucratic nightmare' that would cost jobs, depress real estate prices
and put the government into parts of the economy where it now has no role."
Associated Press: "'But when you file a 300-page amendment at 3:09 a.m., the American people have a right to know what's in this bill,'
Reuters: "House Republican leader John Boehner called the measure 'the biggest job-killing bill that has ever been on the floor of the House
Washington Post: "And then came the fili-Boehner. House tradition allows the speaker, the majority leader and the minority leader to ignore the
usual time limits on floor speeches. So, at the end of four hours of debate, Boehner opened a binder containing the 300-page amendment. 'Don't you think
the American people expect us to understand what's in this bill before we vote on it?' Boehner said, to cheers from Republicans. He read numerous
passages highlighting items such as credits for Fannie Mae-financed efficiency measures and plans for grants to study consumer behavior on energy use
and offered critiques."
Politico: "'This is the biggest job killing bill that's ever been on the floor of the House of Representatives. Right here, this bill,' said House
Minority Leader John Boehner. 'And I don't think that's what the American people want.' Donning reading glasses, Boehner then delayed the roll call vote by
reading page-by-page through a 300-page managers' amendment Democrats added at around 3 a.m. on Friday. Boehner seemed to relish the hour-long
stunt, picking out the bill's most obscure language and then pontificating about what it might or might not mean. Republicans laughed along with him
and roared with applause when he was done."
San Francisco Chronicle: "Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio [used] his privileges as a leader to spend more than an hour ridiculing page
after page of the bill and delaying the final vote until well into the evening."
Wall Street Journal: "House Minority Leader John Boehner lambasted the Democratic bill for more than an hour Friday evening before the final
vote. He mocked provisions covering everything from energy-efficient loan standards for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to the definition of 'renewable
biomass' to the establishment of 'green' banking centers. "Is there anything we're not regulating in this bill?' he said."
Dow Jones: "Republicans warn it could cripple the economy. 'This is a tax on anyone who drives a car, buys an American-made product, or flips on
a light switch,' said Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio. 'It will drive up energy costs and send millions of American jobs to countries like China
and India, and place a real heavy burden on rural Americans.'"
Fox News: "Filibusters are not allowed in the House. They're a province of the Senate. But House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) may
have figured out a way to get around that prohibition Friday as the House inched closer to voting on a controversial energy and climate change bill.
Overnight, House Democrats tacked onto the bill a 300-page amendment. So when Boehner took his time to speak against the package at the end of the debate,
the Ohio Republican then decided to peel through major portions of the bill and read them aloud before his House colleagues. 'Is there anything we
aren't regulating in this bill?' Boehner asked, leafing through the pages. He wondered if the community group ACORN qualified for certain grants. He asked
why an energy and climate bill was 'trying to solve the problems with Fannie (Mae) and Freddie (Mac).'"
Pelosi: 'Remember These Four Words For What This Legislation Means: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, and Jobs.'
June 26, Washington, D.C. Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressed the House floor this evening on the American Clean Energy and Security Act.
She commended the work and leadership of Chairmen Henry Waxman, Ed Markey, Charles Rangel, and Collin Peterson. The bill passed in the House by a
vote of 219 to 212.
On the floor, the Speaker said: "No matter how long this Congress wants to talk about it, we cannot hold back the future. And so, in order to move
on with the future, I want to yield back my time, submit my statement for the record, and urge my colleagues to vote for this important legislation. And
when you do, just remember these four words for what this legislation means: jobs, jobs, jobs, and jobs. Let's vote for jobs."
The following are the remarks that the Speaker submitted to the Congressional Record:
"Madam Speaker, today the House has an opportunity to pass historic and transformative legislation: the American Clean Energy and Security Act.
"I would like to acknowledge the authors of the legislation:
Chairman Waxman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce
Chairman Markey of the Select Committee on Energy Security and Climate Change
"I would also like to acknowledge:
Chairman Collin Peterson of the Agriculture Committee for bringing the priorities of America's farmers to this bill
And Chairman Rangel who helped ensure that this bill is fiscally responsible and fully paid for.
"And I would like to acknowledge the many staff who worked so hard on this legislation.
In his Inaugural Address, President Obama called upon us to, 'harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.'
One week and one day later, we did just that. We passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act the single largest investment in history in clean
energy - with over $69 billion for new investments in clean energy.
"Shortly thereafter, we passed the omnibus spending bill, with significant investments in advanced energy research and the labs and
equipment necessary to perform the next generation of advanced energy research.
"We passed the budget, which included a 10 percent increase in investment in clean energy and energy efficiency.
"This was building upon the work of the last Congress:
The Farm Bill was the first in history to include a real investment in energy independence, with over $1 billion to leverage renewable energy
industry investments in new technologies and new feedstocks.
And the historic and bipartisan energy bill signed by President Bush increased fuel efficiency standards for vehicles for the first time in 30 years
and redirected this country's energy policy toward clean, renewable energy.
"Creating a new energy policy and addressing the global climate crisis is: Energy independence is:
a national security issue by reducing our dependence on foreign oil;
an environmental and health issue;
it is a moral issue;
and it is an economic issue for America's families.
"There are four words that can describe this bill: jobs, jobs, jobs, and jobs.
"Madam Speaker, we debate this legislation as millions of Americans are struggling in this economy. This is our moment to transform our
economy and create jobs.
"This is the moment when we can unleash private sector investment in clean energy to create millions of new jobs and make America the
global innovation leader. It will promote clean energy technology made in America. It will put America in the lead in the global competition.
"As we rebuild America in a green way, we will create jobs that cannot be shipped overseas. We are creating a framework in which innovation
can occur and that gives business certainty that we are moving to a clean energy economy. That will unleash innovation, investment, and venture capital
to drive new technologies into the market.
"America's farmers will fuel America's energy independence. They will do so with carbon?offsetting crops and forests, and biofuel and wind farms
to repower America.
"This historic legislation is the product of months of consensus building to achieve an effective and affordable transition to a clean energy future.
"I am so pleased that the diverse coalition supporting this bill includes everyone from:
The Union of Concerned Scientists to the Evangelical Climate Initiative and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
From the business community to labor organizations, from ALCOA to the U.S. Steelworkers of America
From the U.S. Conference of Mayors to members of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a coalition of business and non-profit groups.
"Today, we have an opportunity to lead America toward an effective and affordable transition to a clean energy future. It is a moment we cannot
afford to miss. We have a responsibility to create jobs and make America more secure, protect the health of our citizens, and honor our moral responsibility to
our children and our future generations.
"Vote to create jobs. Let's put this Congress on the right side of the future. Vote yes on the American Clean Energy and Security Act.
"I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to protect God's beautiful creation by supporting this legislation."
Guest Commentary . . .
Sharing the Burden All of Us, Not Just a Few
Imagine you were facing a 50-percent cut in your income and had to decide what you could and couldn't provide for your family. What
would that be like?
Now imagine the plight hundreds of human service agencies that are trying to continue services to thousands of their clients while being told their
state funding will be cut in half starting July 1st. What would that look like?
During tough economic times we are all affected. But the message coming out of Springfield seems to be that while we are all to be affected,
certain agencies namely human service agencies - should shoulder a greater amount of the burden of funding cuts.
Please contact your legislators and the Governor to questions the fairness of this approach.
We have received communications from the departments of Mental Health, Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Children and Family Services
detailing proposed budget cuts of anywhere from 50-100%, totaling $2.0 million! If those cuts come to pass, 1,700 clients that we would have served will go without!
While Illinois' human service agencies are being slashed to the bone, other departments of the state are going untouched. For example:
· Full funding for all state employee payroll costs, including funds for a minimum of 4% salary increases for union employees
· Fully funded Medicaid grants for Physicians, Hospitals and Nursing Homes.
· Increase in operation costs for public universities and community colleges; spending in these areas actually increased.
· Increased funding for major elementary and secondary education grants such as general state aid and special education.
While these areas of state are important too, clearly there is not an equal sharing of the burden.
The lawmakers we have elected need to step up and do the right thing, not the "business as usual" thing. The purpose of government is to protect
the common good and it is time that our legislative leaders and the people of our state start thinking about that charge.
We all, collectively, have a responsibility to each other and we can no longer afford to let greed and selfishness be our guide. Helping the mentally
ill, those fighting addiction, providing appropriate, affordable day care, housing and transportation, providing affordable and adequate healthcare none
of these come cheap. But the cost of not doing them far outweighs the cost of providing them.
Cutting vital human service programs simply balances Illinois' budget on the backs of those who can least afford it.
As lawmakers return to Springfield, it is my hope that the leaders that we have elected will do what is right, not simply what will get them re-elected.
Does this mean implementing a sales tax increase? Maybe. Does it mean more equitably distributing budget cuts to ALL state agencies? I hope so!
I ask that if you haven't already done so, please contact your legislators, representatives and Governor Quinn. Ask them to restore full and
equitable funding for all human service programs. For those who have already contacted the leadership, thank you.
The voice for human services here in Illinois needs to be heard, loud and clear. Some of our most vulnerable citizens can not fight for themselves
James R. Sarver
Sinnissippi Centers, Inc.
Senate Week In Review
June 22-26, 2009
A view from the Illinois Senate Republican Press Office
SPRINGFIELD With no progress toward adopting a Fiscal Year 2010 budget proposal and the end of the current fiscal year rapidly approaching.,
the state's Democrat leaders adjourned a special legislative session June 24 and made plans to return next week.
Frustrated by the lack of progress, Senate Republicans offered an alternative "bridge" budget, which would keep state government functioning
and social service programs operational. State Sen. Tim Bivins (R-Dixon) said they decided to offer the temporary proposal because negotiations that
should have been going on back in March are only now beginning to take place. The Republican proposal would roll spending back to the previous
year's levels, which is seen as more equitable and manageable than the budget approved in May. The May proposal, adopted on partisan votes with no
Republican support, slashed human service spending by 50%, while increasing funding in other areas.
Bivins said the bridge budget proposal would still require sacrifice, but it is shared and manageable sacrifice that will give the Governor and
legislative leaders an opportunity to identify areas of state government that could be reasonably cut or reduced.
The 45th District Senator said that for years Senate Republicans have fought for reforms to the state's Medicaid and pension systems as a way to
save state dollars, while also improving the quality of care and the viability of Illinois' retirement systems. Republican lawmakers also believe that
structural, ethical and campaign-related reforms are essential to resolving the underlying problems facing Illinois including ending the political gerrymandering
of the state for partisan political purposes.
The severe cuts contained in the partisan budget measure adopted in May were designed to create a backlash, which they did. More than 5,000
state service providers and their beneficiaries rallied in the State Capitol on Tuesday, demanding a resolution. But, while it prompted fear and anger among
social service providers and their clients, the budget did nothing to advance a responsible solution or address the underlying problems facing Illinois government.
As the start of the new fiscal year approaches, Gov. Pat Quinn appeared to be revising his position on budget cuts. He had been traveling throughout
the state warning of how these cuts would impact service providers, but on June 24 he announced that he was not going to make those drastic cuts to
social service spending. Quinn did not offer any explanation as to how he and majority Democrats plan to address the state's budget problems when
state lawmakers return to Springfield.
By Jim Sacia, State Representative, 89th District
On June 23rd and 24th legislators returned to Springfield for special session to deal with Illinois' significant budget issue. For the first time in my
seven years as your Representative, the State Fire Marshall actually closed the capitol due to the mass of human services providers and clients making their
voices heard in support of a tax hike.
The House was only in session for a few minutes on the 23rd and afterward our respective caucuses met for hours to discuss these very difficult
issues-an estimated $9.2 billion shortfall to our $59 billion state budget.
As you know, Governor Quinn is pushing hard for his 50% income tax hike. The reality is that, if passed, the tax increase would generate about
$4.2 billion while costing you, the average taxpayer, about $30 every other Friday. On the 24th, Governor Quinn met with the House Republicans for about
an hour and a half. His sincerity is truly a breath of fresh air. He shared his vision for Illinois and he answered questions. I truly believe him when he says
he is not a partisan Governor.
Here is the problem: as I shared with you last week, spending in Illinois is a runaway train. Medicaid and pension expenses are out of control.
No Republicans and few Democrats can get on board with a tax hike until we see specifically how money will be spent. Simply handing the state a sock full
of new money is not acceptable. That's certainly not my idea of fiscal responsibility. Even former Governor Jim Edgar recently stated that our state's
financial crisis is the worst he has seen in his 40 years in Illinois government.
I shared my 10-point alternative to a tax hike that I outlined to you last week with Deputy Governor Carolyn Brown Hodge. She was quick to note
"we can't cut ourselves out of the deficit we are in. We feel with cuts, reforms and a tax increase we can move Illinois forward. Our hope is that you can
support that". I have great respect for Carolyn. We don't always agree, but she is a straight talker and I like that.
I agree we can't fix the budget with cuts alone. Governor Quinn, in his meeting with us, indicated a desire to listen to any and all alternatives on
We return to session on Monday, June 29th. Can we fix it? Of course we can. Is the spirit of cooperation there that is necessary? I believe it is.
Here's where we stand at the moment: we have a $9.2 billion shortfall. The Governor's tax hike would decrease that by only $4.2 billion that's a
huge sticking point. Short-term borrowing of $2.2 billion is on the table. This is necessary in order to secure $1.7 billion in federal matching funds. The
Governor says he can cut another one billion dollars.
There are no easy answers, but I believe the will is there. Stay Tuned.
As always, you can reach me, Sally or Barb at 815/232-0774 or e-mail us at email@example.com. You can also visit my website at www.jimsacia.com.
It's always a pleasure to hear from you.