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Gov. Rauner Announces $200M In Budget Cuts, With $90M From Social Services

By aaroncynic in News on Oct 18, 2017 3:05PM

Illinois governor Bruce Rauner last February in Chicago. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner says he plans to cut some $200 million from the state budget, including more than $89 million in funding for various social service programs.

“The governor received a budget $1.7 billion out of balance and has to take action where possible to begin reducing that structural imbalance,” Patty Schuh, a spokesperson for the governor, told the State Journal-Register.

The Illinois Office of Management and Budget says it projects budget deficits through fiscal year 2023, including a $1.5 billion deficit in FY18 and a $2.1 billion deficit in FY19. It’s original 2018 deficit estimate was $1.7 billion.

Many of the cuts to social services are to programs that saw severe funding lapses during the state’s two-year budget impasse. Among them include cuts to addiction prevention, homelessness prevention, supportive housing services, youth employment programs, as well as services for immigrant integration, homeless youth, refugees, and people with disabilities.

“It’s the usual list of things he has tried to zero out each time he gets the chance,” Rep. Greg Harris told the Tribune. “While I am glad he did not totally eliminate them this time, it’s the same groups and same programs that are critical investments for the state.”

In addition to the cuts in human services, the Rauner administration says it will cut $21 million from the Department of Agriculture, $41 million from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and $86 million from the Illinois Department of Transportation—which hits people with disabilities a second time, because the cuts include money for para-transit services for the Regional Transportation Authority.

Rauner’s potential gubernatorial challengers, as well as community groups, were quick to condemn the cuts.

“Bruce Rauner slashing vital programs that help Illinoisans build better lives comes as no surprise for this crisis creatin’ governor,” said JB Pritzker campaign spokesperson Jordan Abudayyeh, who compared them to the “Good Friday Massacre” of 2015, where the Rauner administration announced $26 million in cuts to social services. “Bruce Rauner has no moral compass and he is hell-bent on repeating his same destructive mistakes with Illinois families paying the price,” she said in a statement emailed to Chicagoist.

State Representative Daniel Biss went on a mini Twitter-storm, and calling for the closure of tax loopholes that benefit the most wealthy in the state.

“Illinois' most vulnerable residents, from children to refugees to people with disabilities, have suffered enough in the past three years,” wrote Biss. “We should take immediate action to close tax dodges like the carried interest loophole that benefit billionaires like @GovRauner.”

In an email to Chicagoist, the Responsible Budget Coalition, an umbrella organization representing more than 300 groups statewide, called on both the governor and state legislature to reverse the decision, as well as a graduated or “progressive” income tax, where people with higher incomes pay higher rates and those with lower pay less:

“Illinois is one of only a handful of states that impose a flat income tax, with the same
rates regardless of income level. Thirty-three states and the federal government utilize a fair tax with lower rates for lower incomes and higher rates for higher incomes. A Fair Tax in Illinois could raise billions in new revenue while providing a tax cut for the vast majority of Illinois residents. The Governor and General Assembly should reject more cuts and act now to choose these sort of revenue options to put our state on solid footing and lay the groundwork for prosperity.”