Ill. House Passes Budget Blueprint

March 30, 2012

(With additional reporting from The Associated Press)

The Illinois House of Representatives passed a budget outline on Thursday that calls on cutting Medicaid funding by about $2.7 billion.

State Rep. Jason Barickman (R-Champaign) was one of 16 lawmakers to vote against it. He said the proposal makes too many assumptions that he's not sure Democrats would support.

"Last year, we put forth billions of dollars in cuts to Medicaid that the opposing was against," Barickman said. "They did not past them. I don't understand why we would move forward with a budget that assume cuts are going to be made until those cuts are actually made."

Stare Rep. Adam Brown (R-Decatur) also voted against the bill, saying the suggested cuts aren't steep enough.

"I've got some bills out there actually in committee that leadership is not letting out for a vote that would cut substantially more than $2.7 billion out of the welfare budget," Brown said. "Those are what we need to take a look at for substantial and viable savings in the long-term."

Under the plan, spending on services from schools to prisons would drop by about $900 million. It also increases the state's annual contribution to government retirement systems.

Illinois faces a deep financial hole, with unpaid bills of roughly $8 billion. The House plan calls for paying about $1.3 billion of that backlog, mostly to doctors and hospitals that have provided care under Medicaid. State leaders say government must cut spending dramatically or risk a virtual collapse of key services.

"It is going to be a painful, painful year, but we have the future of these children and the future of the poorest and most vulnerable in our hearts," said Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago.

State Reps. Chad Hays (R-Catlin) and Naomi Jakobsson (D-Urbana) voted in favor of the measure, while State Rep. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) was absent during the vote.

Gov. Pat Quinn's office said he opposes the education cuts that would be required by the House plan. The budget blueprint now heads to the Illinois Senate.

Story source: WILL