Rauner Prepares Closures, Cuts if No Budget OK'd

Gov. Bruce Rauner announced plans Tuesday to close state facilities and curtail spending on childcare and senior services if there's no agreement on a state budget by July 1.

In a news release that read much like a legislative resolution, the Republican governor also announced plans to kill the $1.5 billion Illiana Expressway between Interstates 55 and 65 south of Chicago. He suspended the work in January, questioning its need.

Rauner said his administration would decide on the possible closure of up to two juvenile detention facilities, along with shuttering a southern Illinois minimum-security prison work camp, closing down five state museums and grounding state aircraft.

Laying blame on Democrats, he described the process as defense against the "Madigan-Cullerton Budget," a reference to the legislative leaders who have OK'd a spending plan for the coming fiscal year but acknowledge they want a tax increase to bridge a revenue gap of at least $3 billion — Rauner says it's closer to $4 billion.

Chicago Democrats Michael Madigan, the House speaker, and Senate President John Cullerton, have said their spending blueprint is necessary to preserve vital services, particularly to low-income and middle-class taxpayers.

Rauner has begun a campaign proclaiming what he says is the Democrats' indifference to the middle class. He says he wants political and business reforms to curb politicians' power and reduce the cost of doing business in the state. But there was no evidence Tuesday that broadcast advertisements his aides hinted at had begun.

"Speaker Madigan, President Cullerton and the politicians they control refuse to act responsibly and reform state government," Rauner spokesman Lance Trover said in the release. "It is time they come to the table with Gov. Rauner to turn around Illinois."

The savings would amount to $400 million, Rauner said. Other reductions are on their way, he warned.

Co-payments for parents in the state's childcare program would increase and waiting lists created. Officials would seek stricter income rules on seniors for Department on Aging services. The state's program for energy assistance to low-income households would be held up, Rauner's statement said.

Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon said if the governor shares the Legislature's goal "to provide vital services and invest in the middle class," he should negotiate with them.

"Unfortunately, today's actions signal that the governor would rather slash child care, services for troubled youth and senior care rather than work on a bipartisan budget solution," Phelon said.

The administration said the Department of Juvenile Justice has 500 unused beds and ordered preparation of consolidation and closure of as many as two facilities. Officials will prepare to close the Corrections Department's Hardin County Work Camp in Cave-in-Rock, move its 180 inmates and put in question the jobs of 60 staff members. Five state museums would be closed temporarily.

The governor said he would stop state-financed daily commuter flights between Chicago and Springfield for state employees and officeholders. State vehicle purchases would be suspended.

The House plans to return to work Thursday; the Senate next week.

Rauner's full statement: 

SPRINGFIELD – House Speaker Mike Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton and their caucuses passed a budget for the 2016 fiscal year beginning July 1 that is nearly $4 billion in the hole.

This latest broken Madigan-Cullerton budget comes on the heels of a Fiscal Year 2015 Madigan-Cullerton budget that was more than $1.5 billion out-of-balance when it was passed.

Since taking office, Governor Rauner has worked diligently to eliminate the inherited $1.5 billion budget deficit without raising taxes, and the state is now projected to end the year with a balanced budget.

With the upcoming Madigan-Cullerton budget deficit more than double that of last year, a mid-year solution is not a possibility this time. The Administration must immediately begin taking steps to manage state spending.

While the Administration is committed to managing the Madigan-Cullerton budget responsibly, because their budget includes no reforms, the options available to the Administration are limited.

"Speaker Madigan, President Cullerton and the politicians they control refuse to act responsibly and reform state government,” Rauner Spokesman Lance Trover said. “It is time they come to the table with Governor Rauner to turnaround Illinois."

Outlined below are steps the Administration is initiating today in order to begin balancing the phony Madigan-Cullerton budget. Many additional steps will be announced as they are finalized.

Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity
Effective Immediately

• Immediate suspension of all future incentive offers to companies for business attraction and retention.
o This includes EDGE Tax Credits, Large Business Attraction Grants, Employer Training Investment Program Incentive Grants and Prime Sites Grants.
• Will defer application approvals for film tax credits and High Impact Business designations.
• All commitments previously made in any of these programs will be honored.

Action Initiated

• Prepare and provide notice for the July 1 suspension of the State Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (SLIHEAP).
• The federal portion of the program, funded at about $170 million, will continue.

Department of Transportation
Effective Immediately

• In light of the state's current fiscal crisis and a lack of sufficient capital resources, the Illiana Expressway will not move forward at this time. As a result, the Illinois Department of Transportation will remove the project from its current multi-year plan. It is the determination of IDOT that the project costs exceed currently available resources. The Department will begin the process of suspending all existing project contracts and procurements.

Action Initiated

• Beginning July 1, the Department will “ground” all state plane passenger service. Planes will be maintained and available for emergency services.

Department of Juvenile Justice
Action Initiated
• Begin the process of identifying one or two juvenile correctional facilities for closure.
• Juvenile system has a surplus of capacity
o Capacity at approximately 1,200 beds, with less than 700 occupied.

Department of Corrections
Action Initiated
• Begin the process of closing the Hardin County Work Camp
o Approximately 180 inmates will be moved
• Approximately 60 Work Camp staff affected

Department of Healthcare and Family Services
Action Initiated

• Implement an audit review of nursing home reimbursements to ensure payments comply with recently implemented new rate structure.
• Recover overpayments to nursing homes and implement financial penalties for improper billings.

Illinois State Police
Action Initiated

• Immediately freeze all vehicle purchases.

Department on Aging
Action Initiated

• File emergency rules to enact means testing to Aging’s Community Care Program. No income limit currently exists.
• Increase the Determination of Need (DON) Score required to obtain services through Aging’s Community Care Program

Department of Human Services
Action Initiated

• DHS will pursue cost control strategies through emergency rules to the Childcare Program:
o Increase copays for parents using the program; and
o Freeze intake and create waiting lists.
• DHS will also begin background checks for relatives providing child care. Background checks are currently required for child care licensed centers, group homes and non-relatives who provide care.

Department of Natural Resources
Action Initiated

• The Department will not award Open Space Land Acquisition Development Grants in FY16.
• The Department will begin the process to suspend operations and close the five state museums to visitors. The state will continue to maintain and secure the museums to protect the artifacts and exhibits.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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