Editor's Note: The following was submitted by Sen. Kirk Dillard's office.
While State Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) was pleased Gov. Pat Quinn used his Feb. 22 budget to outline the serious fiscal challenges facing Illinois, the 24th District senator said the budget increases spending by almost $550 million and lacks critical details on how to address the state’s most pressing issues.
“In contrast to his State of the State address, Gov. Quinn acknowledged the significant financial obstacles facing Illinois. However, I was disappointed he didn’t provide specifics on how he proposes to tackle these challenges,” said Dillard. “I was particularly surprised that there was no explanation of how he plans to pay down the state’s bill backlog or mention of how he intends to roll back the income tax increase as promised.”
Dillard said that though the Democrats’ 67 percent income tax increase was pushed as a way to pay off the state’s massive bill backlog, Quinn’s budget proposal would spend 99.5 percent of every dollar the state anticipates collecting in the coming year—setting aside just $160 million to pay off the state’s old bills. Currently, the comptroller estimates the backlog to sit at $8.5 billion.
“Unless Illinois brings its spending under control, the state’s bill backlog could reach $35 billion in just five years. That is about $2 billion more than the state’s current yearly general funds budget,” Dillard pointed out. “We have no other choice but to cut our state budget, reform Medicaid and address public employee pension liabilities.”
Though Gov. Quinn insisted his budget would cut spending, rolling state expenditures back to Fiscal Year 2008 levels, Sen. Dillard said that was simply not the case.
“No matter what the governor says, his proposal spends a half-billion dollars more than what we plan to spend in the current fiscal year, and is about $3.5 billion more than what Illinois spent in 2008,” Dillard said. “In his address, Gov. Quinn said Illinois needs a ‘rendezvous with reality,’ and I can’t agree more. I’m more than willing to roll up my sleeves and help him identify specific ways to cut our state budget. We have no other alternative.”
Dillard noted that of utmost importance is the need to reduce costs associated with the state’s most rapidly growing program—Medicaid. Though Quinn advocated for a $2.7 billion Medicaid cut in his speech, he did not offer details on how to achieve those savings.
“If something isn’t done to rein in Medicaid obligations, the program is on target to see a $21 billion Medicaid bill backlog within five years. The backlog is truly catastrophic. If we don’t do something soon the liabilities threaten to overwhelm the entire system,” said Dillard. “We need to fix the systemic budget shortfalls and inefficiencies within the Medicaid program to ensure that we still have a Medicaid program available for our most needy and vulnerable citizens.”
Though Quinn expressed a desire to pursue additional Medicaid reforms, Sen. Dillard emphasized that under the governor’s plan the proposed Medicaid budget anticipates growth reaching a record 3 million enrollees—or more than 150,000 people added to the program this year.
“That is comparable to adding the entire city of Joliet to the Medicaid rolls in just one year,” Dillard said.