Quinn signs new budget rules

February 22, 2011

by City Room and Amanda Vinicky

(AP File/Seth Perlman)
Gov. Pat Quinn delivers his budget address

A new Illinois law says a governor can only use existing, available revenues when outlining the state budget. During his address, Gov. Pat Quinn singled out the new budgeting system, meant to keep the state's accounts in balance. It requires state-funded programs give data to show they're meeting benchmarks. And it says a governor's spending plan be based on revenues the state actually has, not those he hopes will pass the General Assembly.

Quinn signed off on that legislation after he presented his budget plan. What Quinn didn't say in his speech was that at the time, it wasn't law.  He waited until hours after his budget address to sign it.

Rep. Dave Winters, R-Rockford, says the timing on Quinn's proposal is disingenuous and his budget plan violates the law.

"It's a slap in the face at the effort to take our budgeting responsibility as legislators seriously," Winters said. "Then it really was almost a direct, 'I'll do what I want' and then, 'Oh yeah, that is a good idea,' but 'unfortunately signed it a couple of hours after it really would have had a major impact.'"

The governor's office says Quinn fully supports the new budgeting methods, but there wasn't enough time to fully implement them before his address. Quinn's proposal relies on a nearly $9 billion borrowing plan.

Meantime, Quinn's proposed budget plan could make finances tough for human service providers. Quinn proposes to take $2 million from domestic violence shelters. Shelters have lost funding in recent years.

"They have cut back to the point where they're only now able to provide basically emergency crisis services," said Vickie Smith, who represents 50 shelters in Illinois. "The prevention, the public outreach, working with schools, working with other agencies has been dropped almost completely."

Mental health facilities could also take a hit. Janet Stover said the clinics she represents could lay off workers if they lose millions of dollars in state aid. She said the patients who rely on those services could end up homeless or in jail without state support.