We thought it was—not likely—but just possible, that the Senate would prevail in its effort to restore a modest amount of funding to some of the human service programs that sustained significant cuts in the 2012 Illinois budget passed in the final hours of the spring session. Such a result would have been a small measure of victory. Unfortunately, we have no reason to celebrate.
To recap: the House and Senate worked with different revenue estimates when their respective appropriation committees established spending levels for all state-funded programs and obligations. The Senate revenue projection was about $1 million higher than the House, but the Senate eventually voted to accept the House’s lower budget figure. Democratic members of the Senate made one more effort to reduce the severity of the cuts in the House-crafted budget. They added an amendment to the capital bill that would restore $431 million to specific lines of the human service budget. The House would have no part of that and voted non-concurrence on the amendment before adjourning on May 31, 2011. The Senate responded by adjourning without receding (“withdrawing”) its amendment.
Some Senators have continued to press for additional budgetary spending, but today—June 22, 2011—every indicator points to an end to the capital “crisis.” The General Assembly has convened for a one-day special session. Despite our hopes to the contrary, we fully expect that the Senate will recede from its amendment to the capital bill at this session, and Illinois will have a budget that cuts services, hurts vulnerable people, and under-utilizes its potential revenue. No congratulations are in order.