Senator Steans

February 16, 2018

Dear Friends,


Senator Steans listens to the governor's budget address.This week the governor unveiled his fourth budget proposal. This is the closest he has ever come to presenting a real, balanced budget, which I appreciate. That said, I have some serious concerns about his cuts to human services, Medicaid and retired pensioners to whom we have a contractual obligation.


The governor’s budget proposes spending $37.6 billion while bringing in $37.9 billion. However, many of his proposed savings require significant legislative action or implementation of an employee contract in order to actually be achieved. If those legislative changes are not achieved, it is estimated that his budget would be more than $1 billion out of balance.


One of the biggest ways the governor proposes savings is by shifting 25 percent of teacher pensions and some health care costs onto local school districts. He also seeks to punish Chicago children for a pension problem they did not create by requiring CPS to pick up its entire pension cost – the only school district in the state that would have to bear this burden. These changes would undermine the bipartisan evidence-based school funding formula, which was passed over the summer to improve education funding for all school districts.


Though the governor claims to increase education funding by $330 million, his pension and health care cost shifts would result in a cut to education funding. He also eliminated funding for afterschool programs, advanced placement programs, parent mentoring and more. This cost shift and programmatic reduction may leave school districts with the tough choice of reducing classroom support or increasing local property taxes.


The governor also proposed reducing Medicaid reimbursement rates by 4 percent, which he estimates would lead to a $150 million savings. This could make it more difficult for Medicaid patients to access health care. He proposed this cut even though Illinois already has the lowest Medicaid reimbursement rates in the nation.


He outlined cutting funding for human services by $292 million. Many human service agencies are still struggling from the detrimental budget impasse. As a government, we have a responsibility to take care of our neediest citizens. I do not believe slashing funding for human services is a compassionate approach to governing.


The governor suggested eliminating health care support for retired teachers to save $129 million. This would likely double their out-of-pocket costs. Most of these retirees do not receive Social Security benefits to offset that change. Additionally, this point could be challenged in court because of the state’s contractual obligation to pensioners.


Senator Steans in a committee hearingThe governor failed to address the backlog of bills in his budget proposal, which currently sits at nearly $9 billion. The backlog soared to $16 billion during the budget impasse. Through a measure sponsored by Senate Democrats, the state was able to borrow $6 billion to pay off some of the debt and received more than $2 billion in matching funds from the federal government. This shifted the burden of debt from small businesses to investors. Without further action, the backlog of bills will continue to accrue late interest penalties.


Now that the governor has submitted his proposal, we will begin to conduct budget hearings in the Senate. Agencies will testify about their funding needs, and I will work with my colleagues across the aisle to find a compromise. Based on these hearings, we will propose and vote on a budget. The governor will have the option to approve or veto the budget once the Legislature approves it.


As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 773-769-1717 or reach out online with any questions or concerns.


Heather Steans
Senator Heather Steans
7th District – Illinois


Hospital assessment update


For the past several months, I have been working to create a new hospital assessment program that is fair to hospitals and patients. This program was designed to leverage federal matching funds to cover the cost of services provided to Medicaid patients in Illinois hospitals. From this program, hospitals receive a flat payment based on a variety of factors, such as the number of patients it serves. Nearly half of the annual Medicaid payment funds are set to expire under Illinois statute on June 30, 2018. We are working diligently to create a new assessment program before that date so as not to disrupt service. This assessment will need state and federal approval before it can take effect.


Upcoming events in the district


Loyola Climate Change Conference flyer



District Office

5533 N. Broadway • Chicago, IL 60640

773-769-1717 (Phone) • 773-769-6901 (Fax)


Springfield Office

623 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706

217-782-8492 (Phone)




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5533 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60640
Office: 773-769-1717
Fax: 773-769-6901

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Springfield, IL 62706
Office: 217-782-8492