Illinois budget

Fair St. Louis is happening in Forest Park this weekend.
Fair St. Louis Foundation

In our weekly "Behind the Headlines" segment, St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh discussed some of the top news stories.

Topics included the Illinois budget negotiations as well as this weekend’s Fair Saint Louis in Forest Park.

We were joined by:

Metro East Redeploy staff member Mollie Hente with client Leah at a poster making group for awareness to fund Redeploy. Hente learned last week that she is being laid off.
Provided by Mark Smith of Children's Home and Aid

A social service agency making cuts in the Metro East due to lack of state funding says even if Illinois legislators pass a stop-gap budget this week it won’t be enough to reverse the damage to its finances.

Children’s Home and Aid notified another nine Metro East employees last week that they were being laid off.

Their departure reduces the number of teens the agency’s programs for at-risk youth are able to serve, adding to the almost one million people the United Way estimates have lost access to social services in Illinois this year during the state budget stalemate.

Bill Kreeb, president and CEO of Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House, and Elizabeth Patton-Whiteside, public health administrator at the East Side Health District.
Aine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

Updated 12:00 p.m., April 7 with news of more layoffs — Metro East social service agency Lessie Bates Neighborhood House says it can't afford to continue offering in-home care to 300 seniors from the East St. Louis area.  

If the state is unable to find another agency to provide in-home care, the seniors could have to move into nursing homes when Lessie Bates temporarily closes its in-home care program at the end of the month.

Lessie Bates is also laying off 117 employees who work in the program. 

Gambling revenue from the Casino Queen is a major source of revenue for the city of East St. Louis.
Paul Sableman | Flickr

Cash-strapped East St. Louis has received an overdue gift from the state just in time for the holidays: $2.5 million worth of back taxes from the Illinois gaming board.

Normally East St. Louis receives a portion of gaming revenue spent at the Casino Queen on a monthly basis. But until Illinois passed a partial budget earlier this month, the state comptroller’s office didn’t have the authority to release the funds.

Bill Kreeb, president and CEO of Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House, and Elizabeth Patton-Whiteside, public health administrator at the East Side Health District.
Aine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

It has officially been 100 days without a budget in Illinois, said Amanda Vinicky, statehouse bureau chief at Illinois Public Radio. But the impasse between Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and the Democratic-controlled legislature predates that.

Rauner is the first Republican in the governor’s mansion in over a decade. He won election with a business-friendly, budget-balancing agenda and the quest to right the Illinois government’s past wrongs.

(Via Flickr/Rosemary)

Illinois has yet to pass a state budget, and an East St. Louis health-care facility is facing layoffs and other tough decisions as a result.

The East Side Health District, which provides services to area residents, could lay off up to 30 workers, (an amount totaling up to two-thirds of the staff) and may end up closing altogether if it does not receive state funding soon.  

Flickr | Taber Andrew Bain

July 1 marked the official start of a new fiscal year, and the state of Illinois is without a working budget for most state services.

For now things seem to be in a holding pattern in the Metro East. Illinois State Troopers based in Collinsville are reporting to work and expect to get paid as normal. Cahokia Mounds remains open on its reduced Wednesday through Sunday schedule.

But many area service providers are on pins and needles as they wait to see if and when they’ll get reimbursed.

Worker at one of Community Link's workshops for adults with developmental disabilities.
courtesy Community Link

Social service agencies that provide support to thousands of people in the Metro East will be operating without state funding starting Wednesday if Illinois lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner can’t reach a budget compromise before the start of the new fiscal year.

Funding for most state programs, including child care subsidies and early intervention for children with developmental disabilities, have yet to be approved.

Fairview Heights resident Laycee Thigpen discusses the impact budget cost-cutting measures would have on her ability to afford child care.
Sarah Kellogg | St. Louis Public Radio

Several Illinois Democratic lawmakers again called on Republican Governor Bruce Rauner to break an impasse and compromise on a budget plan that doesn't hurt the middle class, all before a July 1 deadline.

The columns at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
St. Louis Public Radio file photo

State higher education funding per full time student has dropped more than 26 percent in Missouri and increased almost 50 percent in Illinois over the past five years, according to data compiled by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association.

The stark contrast between the states is due in part to an almost 29 percent variance in enrollment trends; Missouri enrollment has gone up while Illinois enrollment has gone down.

But Illinois Higher Education Director James Applegate said his state has also drastically increased its higher education funding in order to pay pension shortfalls.

(WUIS Radio)

Illinois' new Republican governor is calling for deep spending cuts to address a state budget billions in the red without raising taxes.

Gov. Bruce Rauner said during his first budget address Wednesday that Illinois has been living beyond its means.

Illinois Gov.-Elect Bruce Rauner shakes the hand of a diner at Red Apple Family Restaurant in Maryville, Ill. on January 10, 2015.
Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

With the countdown to inauguration day down to two, Illinois Governor-Elect Bruce Rauner stepped into Red Apple Family Restaurant in the Metro East Saturday with a Carhartt jacket on his back and a smile on his face.

The discerning eye could note a silver Illinois-shaped pin stuck to the lapel of the tan work coat.

The crowded red-roofed eatery in the village of Maryville was the Republican’s first stop Saturday—the second day of his pre-inauguration tour.

(via Flickr/jglazer75)

No one says the $35.7 billion 2015 budget approved by the Illinois Legislature late last week is balanced. As the Belleville News Democrat reported, “Democratic Sen. Dan Kotowski, a Senate budget negotiator, described the plan as ‘incomplete’ but the best lawmakers could do this session.

kevindooley via Flickr

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 that covers many departments and services, according to Representative Greg 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," said Harris.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky.

In his annual budget address today, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn laid the blame on the General Assembly for forcing him to cut spending on schools and other key state priorities. Quinn says the cost of pensions is "squeezing" Illinois' finances, to the point that he's calling for a $400 million hit to education.

(Read the full text of the governor's prepared remarks

Illinois officials say Gov. Pat Quinn has decided three state facilities helping former prison inmates transition into society will remain open, a reversal of plans to close them because of budget constraints.
 
Illinois Department of Corrections spokesman Stacey Solano said Monday the governor plans to keep the Fox Valley Adult Transition Center open. Kelly Kraft of Quinn's budget office also said the Peoria and Chicago's North Lawndale adult transition centers were also saved.

The Illinois budget news just keeps getting worse.

The auditor general says the overall state budget deficit passed the $43 billion mark last year.

Five years earlier, the deficit was less than $19 billion.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Guards charged with assault for inmate fight

Two guards at the medium security jail in St. Louis City are facing burglary and assault charges for allegedly arranging to have one inmate at the workhouse beat up another.

(via Flickr/AnneH632)

Amanda Vinicky contributed reporting from Springfield.

Illinois lawmakers will take a shot today at passing a massive overhaul of the state's pension system.

It's a move permitted by a surprise decision last night by House Speaker Michael Madigan, who handed control of the measure over to the top Republican in the House, Tom Cross.

(via Flickr/JimBowen0306)

Brian Mackey contributed reporting from Springfield.

An Illinois state House committee has approved sweeping changes to public employee pensions.

It's one of Gov. Pat Quinn's priorities for the legislative session that ends on Thursday.

Current and retired state and university employees, and public school teachers would face a difficult choice; keep their health care in retirement and have future pay raises count toward their pensions, but a smaller cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), or keep the current 3 percent compounding COLA but lose health care.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Out-migration is costing St. Louis County money

More people are moving out of St. Louis County than moving in – and they’re taking money with them.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch cites Internal Revenue Service figures that show those who left the county between 2001 and 2010 earned on average $8,000 more than those who moved in. And about 52,000 more people left the county than moved in.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Todd Epsten dies; former president of the Board of Police Commissioners was chair of the state's largest liquor distributor

The former head of the appointed board that oversees the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department has died.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Todd Epsten, who was the chairman of liquor distributor Major Brands, died Saturday of brain cancer. He was 52.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

St. Louis police express concerns with cameras in patrol cars

Officers with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department are seeking ways to avoid driving patrol cars equipped with cameras over concerns that footage from the cameras is being used against them.

(via Flickr/jglazer75)

Will be updated. Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky used in this report.

Democrats in the Illinois Senate are proposing a budget that would hold education spending flat and pay a chunk of the state's pile of overdue bills.

But doing that would require cuts to public safety and most other areas of government, as well as dipping into money set aside for special purposes.

Democratic Senator Dan Kotowski from Park Ridge says the budget proposal addresses citizens' wants.

(via Flickr/JimBowen0306)

Reporting from Amanda Vinicky was used in this story.

Like its counterpart in Missouri, the Illinois General Assembly is heading into the home stretch.

Lawmakers there have a bit more time to get through their agenda - their session isn't scheduled to end until the end of May. But unlike lawmakers in Missouri, Illinois legislators have a monumental task in front of them - passing a state budget.

Most state agencies will have their budget cut by 9 percent.

IndofunkSatish/via Flickr

Judge approves settlement in lawsuit over mental health care for the deaf

A federal judge has approved a settlement in a class action lawsuit brought against two Missouri state agencies on behalf of more than a thousand deaf residents.

Plaintiffs in the 2010 lawsuit alleged that the state departments of Mental Health and Social Services failed to provide adequate mental health care for deaf persons in crisis.

The departments were sued under the  Americans with Disabilities Act.

(via Flickr/Cast a Line)

School buses might be the next victim of the Illinois budget crisis.

Education officials are considering a proposal to let schools stop offering free bus service. They could either get rid of the buses or charge for carrying students each day.

The change would be part of a new system for distributing state money for student transportation. The State Board of Education could introduce legislation this week.

The Illinois Association of School Boards says transportation spending has been slashed 42 percent since 2010.

(via Flickr/jglazer75)

Updated 1:56 p.m. with correction from The Associated Press on Medicaid percentage. 

Virtually all parts of state government would be forced to cut spending under a budget outline approved by the Illinois House.

The measure requires cutting Medicaid by $2.7 billion, or about 14 percent (percentage earlier read 25 percent, has been corrected). Spending on services from schools to prisons would fall by about $900 million.

The House approved it 91-16 on Thursday. Now it goes to the state Senate.

Flickr Creative Commons/Glamour Schatz

Mo. Senate preparing to send workplace discrimination bill to Nixon today

The Missouri Senate is preparing today to pass the House version of the workplace discrimination bill and send it to Governor Jay Nixon. 

Senate Democrats, however, voiced their opposition Wednesday by blocking the bill for nearly five hours. 

The filibuster was led by Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal of St. Louis County. 

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Reporting from WBEZ's Alex Keefe used in this report.

Governor Pat Quinn is defending his plan to close a super-maximum security prison in southern Illinois.

The governor's office says closing Tamms prison would save the state nearly $22 million next year. Quinn says it costs more than 64,000 per year to lock up a prisoner there - about three times the statewide average.

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