A government watchdog group is calling for immediate action to head off an Illinois budget crisis that it says will quadruple within five years unless steps are taken to curb state pension and Medicaid spending, according to the Chicago Sun-Times
The newspaper reported Monday that the Chicago-based Civic Federation has produced a state budget analysis showing that Illinois’ $9.2 billion in unpaid bills will reach $34.8 billion by 2017 without quick action from state lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.
“The governor and General Assembly must act now,” Civic Federation President Laurence Msall was quoted as saying. “Failure to address unsustainable trends in the state’s pension and Medicaid systems will only result in financial disaster for the State of Illinois.”
The Sun-Times reported that the watchdog group is urging an “aggressive implementation” of a Medicaid reform measure passed last year by the General Assembly that would lessen the reliance on institutional care for the disabled and elderly.
In addition, the newspaper said, the group is calling for an end to the Illinois Cares Rx program, which is not eligible for federal reimbursement.
Another recommendation that the Sun-Times described as “constitutionally questionable,” calls for limiting pension benefit increases for current state retirees to “3 percent a year or one-half the rate of inflation, whichever is less.”
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