With the holidays coming up, I had intended for last week’s Reick Report to be the final one for the year. However, this week we had a major announcement from the Governor that I wanted to bring to your attention. Absent anything of similar importance occurring between now and January, this will be the last Reick Report of the year.
Hot Topic of the Week:
The Governor Seems to Have Forgotten Who He Represents
The governor held a press conference on Thursday where he announced that he was committing $160 million of state funds to ease the transition for migrants coming into Illinois, from sleeping on the streets to finding shelter before the onset of winter to expediting “independence” and providing employment assistance. Here is how he envisions spending that $160 million:
I can’t wait to see how long it will take for us to blow through the $30 million meant to streamline intake procedures. Given Illinois’ sterling reputation for efficiency and cost effectiveness, when it takes months for a CASA volunteer to get a background check or a doctor to get a license renewed, I’m not optimistic.
But wouldn’t you know it, the Governor’s office of management and budget (GOMB) just came out with a revision of 2024 revenue showing an increase of $1.406 billion, fueled no doubt by inflation that’s taking dollars out of the pockets of ordinary citizens. But I digress.
As you can see, GOMB has revised the 2024 state surplus upwards to $422 million. The reason all of this increased revenue did not drop to the bottom line is explained by the $1 billion supplemental appropriation found in the expenditures column. Inquiring minds may want to know what that supplemental appropriation would be used for. Well, $160 million of it is obviously going to be used to fund the governor’s proposed “Welcome, Shelter and Independence” plan described above. The Governor said there was enough discretionary money in the budget to cover the $160 million, but money being a fungible commodity, that assertion is nothing more than blowing smoke.
And remember back in May when the Governor supported a $550 million increase in migrant health care (which would not be eligible for Federal reimbursement), and then issued emergency rules that limited enrollment and imposed copays (subsequently dropped) to further limit the cost? He said this was necessary in order for the budget to remain in balance. However, in September the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services issued a revision of program costs through the end of the fiscal year showing a projected cost of almost $833 million, or $283 million over what was budgeted in May.
So if you take the $160 million plus the $283 million over and above the $550 million originally appropriated, you see that $443 million of that $1 billion is being used on those two programs. Something tells me that won’t be the final figure. Without that “November Surprise” many oxen would have been gored to provide the funds for these programs while maintaining the illusion of a balanced budget.
The governor said in his press conference that the state was stepping in with additional resources so that migrants would not be “lost in a bureaucracy”. If it weren’t so tragic, it would be funny. How long has it been that we’ve been reading about kids sleeping on the floors of DCFS offices and being kept in psychiatric hospitals long beyond medical necessity simply because they were “lost in a bureaucracy” that couldn’t find an appropriate place for them to stay? The latest statistics from DCFS show that between January 1st of 2023 and July 2nd, 355 kids had slept on the floor in DCFS offices. In addition, over 100 kids were being kept in psychiatric hospitals beyond medical necessity. Over the past year we saw DCFS director Marc Smith being charged with contempt over and over again because of the failure of his agency to find proper placement for these kids.
Though I’m sure none of us rejoice in the plight facing these folks, we have a responsibility to take care of our own. Kids who suffer from abuse and neglect have a higher priority than someone who just stepped off the bus. The neighborhoods in Chicago which are seeing money going to people camping out in front of their houses but are left scrambling for money necessary for community development are justifiably angry at these misplaced priorities, which are more focused on keeping the Governor in the conversation for national office than taking care of the people he took an oath to protect.
A Holiday Wish
It’s been a long year, and as we head toward Thanksgiving, I want to wish you the very best during this holiday season. Though it often seems that our society is running off the rails, we need but look around us to see the manifold blessings which have been given to us and which are our responsibility to share. Please take a moment over the next month and think about what can be done to bestow some of those blessings upon others. It will be returned back manyfold.
See you next year.
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