Governor Quinn’s Chief of Staff Jerry Stermer and Chief Operating Officer Jack Lavin held a public budget briefing in a crowded room of some 150 human service advocates and providers at the Bilandic Building in Chicago this morning. An outdoor rally at the Thompson Center to protest the budget cuts took place immediately following the briefing.
At the briefing, Mr. Stermer reported during the briefing that the Governor will meet tomorrow with legislative leaders John Cullerton, Michael Madigan, Christine Radogno, and Tom Cross, and will likely call the legislature back into session next week.
Other information from Mr. Stermer and Mr. Lavin:
Budget Cuts are Real
The budget cut letters that have been sent out from the executive branch — e.g., the Department of Human Services, the Department of Public Health, etc. — are to be viewed as directives.
According to Mr. Stermer, the budget that begins July 1 will result in the layoffs of 10,000 state employees and 100,000 who provide services under state contracts, such as schools and hospitals (and TASC and substance abuse treatment too).
No 6-Month Budget
Mr. Lavin dismissed the notion of using the current budget as a six-month budget because if new revenue measures fail in the coming months, there will be no money left at all in January. Also, a 6-month budget would affect the state’s bond issues.
Governor Holds Steady on Tax Increase
The Governor’s office came back several times to the main talking point of the briefing: that the legislature must pass an income tax in order for funding to be restored.
Jerry Stermer reminded attendees that, “Even if we pass the revenue, we’re still going to have to cut… We need your help to turn some of those ‘no’ votes to ‘yes’ votes.”
Legislators in Attendance
Legislators in the audience (who spoke during the Q & A) were State Representatives Julie Hamos, Cynthia Soto, and Al Riley, and State Senator Heather Steans. All four voted for an income tax increase. Heather Steans noted that even legislators who voted for the tax increase are not off they hook; they need to push on their leadership.
A second briefing was held immediately afterwards to accommodate the few hundred who were closed out of the first briefing, State Senator Mattie Hunter (who also supported the tax increase) called on the Governor bring legislators back to Springfield now.
TASC supports all reasonable measures, including a state income tax hike, to bring in revenue to fund drug treatment and case management services for citizens whose addictions cost taxpayers the most, including offenders and addicted parents of children in the child welfare system.