Illinois Budget Crisis 2010: Big Cuts Coming For Schools, Police, Child Care

Illinois Budget Crisis 2010: Big Cuts Coming For Schools, Police, Child Care

Though Gov. Pat Quinn won't discuss his proposal for fixing the state's massive deficit until Wednesday, a top Quinn aide told the Associated Press Monday that the state can expect 17,000 teachers to lose their jobs, thousands of poor families to get less help with child care and fewer state troopers to patrol the roads.

Quinn budget director David Vaught told the AP that even if lawmakers agree to Quinn's proposed tax hikes, the state will still face big cuts.

"This is the reality budget. This is what's really happening," Vaught said.

Illinois' deficit, which is roughly $13 billion, is just the tip of the iceberg, Vaught said. The state's current budget is badly unbalanced, revenues are expected to drop and expenses keep climbing, Vaught told the AP.

On Monday, Quinn's office announced that it plans to examine more than 250 government contracts issued by his predecessor, Rod Blagojevich, to see if they should be rebid--but it is not yet clear whether the move will ease any of the state's fiscal woes.

Vaught would not tell the AP about the size of Quinn's proposed tax hike, but did say Quinn will propose about about $2 billion in cuts:

General education spending would fall by about $1.4 billion, he said, an 11 percent decrease. The "foundation level" of state support for each child would fall from $6,119 now to about $5,600 next year.

Vaught estimated schools would have to lay off about 17,000 teachers.

State Republicans are accusing Quinn of trying to scare voters into his tax hikes. "I think the governor is playing a game. It's a sick game," House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, said last week.

Sen. Bill Brady, who is running against Quinn, has proposed a ten percent across the board reduction to all state agencies, which has been critisized by members of his own party.

More good news from Vaught?

* Quinn will propose $150 million in cuts to human services, meaning less cash for local organizations that provide child-care services for the working poor. About 6,000 children would be affected by the tighter eligibility standards--which could cause their parents to lose their jobs.

* State police would lose about $32 million, meaning fewer troopers on the roads.

* Local governments will see about $300 million less in terms of state support--"that and the education cuts are likely to increase pressure for cities and school boards to raise property taxes." (Mayor Daley is not so thrilled about this proposal.)

Vaught did not address the fact that the state has failed to pay the more than $1 billion it owes to schools, and blamed the current situation on last year's lawmakers who voted against a tax hike.

"If they had acted, we wouldn't be seeing these kinds of cuts," he told the AP.

In addition to the $2 billion in spending reductions, Quinn will propose borrowing billions of dollars to pay off long-overdue bills. Vaught said that would still leave a hole of about $5 billion to be filled by raising taxes or borrowing more money.

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