Gov. Pat Quinn trims Illinois state budget again

Doug Finke

Gov. Pat Quinn detailed additional cuts to Illinois’ cash-strapped state budget Tuesday, taking more money out of school transportation grants, cutting operations funds for psychiatric hospitals and developmental centers, and eliminating a subsidy to Peoria’s Wildlife Prairie Park.

Quinn’s budget office said the total additional reductions amount to about $891 million. Quinn held a news conference in July to say he would be cutting $1.4 billion from the budget, but he did not specify then how the entire $1.4 billion would be achieved.

“He said details would be forthcoming,” said Quinn budget spokeswoman Kelly Kraft. “This details the (entire) $1.4 billion.”

However, the documents posted on a state budget web site ( don’t always contain much additional information about which programs will be cut and how it will affect them.

The Department of Children and Family Services is being cut by $34.5 million, up from the $6 million reduction Quinn outlined in July. Documents said $4.3 million will be saved by not filling vacancies promptly and $30 million by cutting grants, including for indirect contracts. Further details were not available Tuesday.

Quinn previously announced cuts of $312 million to the Department of Human Services. The latest figure is $576 million. Much of that came by further cutting grants, from $262 million announced in July to $515 million today.

The reductions will result in cuts or elimination of non-Medicaid programs in mental health, developmental disabilities and rehabilitation services, extending the payment cycle for developmental disabilities programs and reducing Community Health and Prevention programs.

Additional cuts were made to the State Board of Education budget, including $62 million for student transportation. The total cut from transportation funding is now $146 million, a 42 percent reduction from last year, said state board spokesman Matt Vanover.

Grants for programs like principal mentoring and arts and foreign languages are being reduced by an additional $10 million and funding for operations of the state board is taking an additional $10 million hit.

Vanover said he isn’t certain how the operations cuts will be accomplished, but “the board preference is to see how we can do it without any reduction in staff.”

Some agencies were not targeted for additional reductions. The Department of Corrections was cut about $42 million by Quinn in July and he did not add to that.

And some agencies are actually receiving increases over last year’s budget -- Department of Juvenile Justice will receive $6.4 million more, and $7.8 million more is set aside for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The General Assembly gave Quinn power to allocate some lump sums on his own, and Kraft said he used that power to increase funding in those agencies.

Here are some other cuts outlined in the documents:

*Administrative spending by Soil and Water Conservation Districts is being cut by 42 percent.

*The Wildlife Prairie Park subsidy is being wiped out as part of a $2.4 million reduction in lump sums at the Department of Natural Resources. DNR will also reduce vacant positions and defer “non-critical” maintenance at state parks.

*Funding for Amtrak is being reduced by $2 million, but the state said it will not result in a reduction of services.

Illinois faces the worst budget deficit in state history — roughly $12 billion.

Doug Finke can be reached at 217-788-1527.

New round of budget reductions

Gov. Pat Quinn announced a round of budget cuts for a number of state agencies in July, then added to those cuts on Tuesday. Here’s a comparison:

*Preschool through 12th-grade education. Cuts announced in July, $241 million. Current cuts, $311 million.

*Children and Family Services, $6 million in July, $34.5 million now.

*Human Services, $312 million in July, $576 million now.

*Aging, $17.4 million in July, $28.4 million now.

*Public Health, $17 million in July, $18.2 million now.