The Latest from Lola's Diner

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

follow up - IL budget crisis

Many of my readers may recall my recent post IL Budget Crisis 50% Doomsday Budget. I actually got an email from my representative, before I had a chance to contact her. Here is the email:
Dear Friend,

The Governor’s doomsday budget talk has created real panic in the lives of people in our communities and throughout the state.

Recently, I met with parents who are terrified that their autistic son will not receive the services he needs. I have spoken to an elderly mother who does not know what she will do if her adult child can no longer live at the independent living center which serves persons with developmental disabilities. There are endless stories throughout this state of families whose lives will be utterly devastated if the Governor honors his threat to cut funding to social service providers by 50%.

And these families have all been told that their ONLY SAVING GRACE is for the General Assembly to pass a 50% increase on the state’s income tax….or it’s doomsday for those agencies who serve the state’s most vulnerable residents.

But Republicans and Democrats agree that increasing the income tax during a collapsing economy is not the ONLY answer.

This week in Springfield, the General Assembly will consider a proposal to issue pension notes as a way to generate approximately $2.2 billion. This is an option I will consider, but there would have to be accountability to guarantee that the money would be used to honor existing contracts with community care providers, leverage more fed funds and social service agencies.

There are other proposals that would help the state reduce its debt without raising taxes on families.

We can start cost-cutting by reforming our Medicaid System. In the past six years Medicaid costs alone have increased 7.8% per year (47%) while the population of Illinois remained stagnant. During that same six year period, Medicaid has skyrocketed from representing about 30% of our $50 billion-plus budget to more than 40%. 2.5 million Illinoisans currently receive Medicaid, nearly 1/6th of the total population; some qualifying at 400% of the poverty level. Yes, that means a family making more than $80,000 per year could qualify. You, the taxpayers, pay $27 million a day for Medicaid.

Some other proposals include:
* A 4% to 5% across the board cut of all state spending, starting with our salaries.
* Open negotiations with AFSCME (state employee union). One union official reportedly told a human service provider recently that they may forego their scheduled 4% pay increase if asked-ok, we’re asking.
* Immediately institute a two-tiered state pension system. New hires must come in under a less expensive system.
* Request furlough days
* Freeze new programs
* Freeze hiring
* Freeze travel
* Work at consolidating our current 870 school districts in Illinois. As a former school board member, I recognize this won’t be easy, but it at least merits discussion.
Good ideas? Don’t they at least merit discussion?

I will continue to keep you updated on the state’s budget issues, as well as any progress that is made in Springfield this week.

For those of you who have Illinois American Water.. As many of you know, Illinois American Water filed for a rate increase (docket number 09-251) in April to pay for infrastructure improvements. The second rate increase, which would increase your rates by 30%, was filed in May and will receive a docket number during the Illinois Commerce Commission’s (ICC) session on July 8. The ICC will have 11 months to review the case.

I urge you to participate in the rate case proceedings, by calling the ICC’s toll-free number at 800-524-0795. Public comments can also be made online at under the docket number and the non-docketed Illinois American Water cases. Customers should comment on both cases.

I will also personally be contacting the ICC to request a public forum in my district regarding the proposed rate increase. The ICC should hear from the people whose bank accounts will take a hit. I will urge Illinois American Water to decrease costs in these hard economic times, not raise rates. We have all had to tighten our belts, and Illinois American Water should too.

As always, do not hesitate to contact my office at (708) 479-4200 with any questions or concerns.

Renée Kosel
State Representative- 81st District
I responded back with my personal story and my concerns about the 50% Doomsday Budget.

Here is Representative Kosel's response:
Dear Lola,

I did not vote for that 50% budget nor did any Republican in the house or senate. Then the governor sent letters like that out before it was even pass to his desk. How much do you think it cost for him send that letter to everyone? Was that a good use of state dollars in hard times? How many Dr appointments would he have been able to pay for with the dollars he spent on that mailing? I am so sick of people down here playing with people lives and then changing things during the 11 hour. When will the majority party start to be about the people not the power or the party? I appreciate your thoughtful response Thank you


I sent a quick email back clarifying that the letter I received was not mailed, but offered to me when I went for services. Isn't it cool we're on a first name basis?

Lola's Diner


Sandee said...

It is indeed very cool that you are on a first name basis. This budget issue is facing almost every state. It's getting worse not better.

Have a terrific day Lola. :)

chicamom85 said...

That was very nice, I am glad that you got a response. I did write to 5 of the names you had listed and have had no response as yet. I will let you know if I do.


Stacie said...

That is awesome your on a first name basis. I really hope something can be done to save the program. We went through that here in Wisconsin a couple years ago. Some of the funding now has been cut. I really understand the feelings of everyone fighting to save it. The best power is the people speaking out!

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