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Schoenberg budget bills pass senate

Three bills sponsored by Senator Jeff Schoenberg of Evanston that he says will help address the state’s budget crisis have passed the state senate.

Senate Bill 3762 is designed to identify areas where the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, in cooperation with other state agencies, can streamline costs and enhance Medicaid revenues.

Three bills sponsored by Senator Jeff Schoenberg of Evanston that he says will help address the state’s budget crisis have passed the state senate.

Senate Bill 3762 is designed to identify areas where the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, in cooperation with other state agencies, can streamline costs and enhance Medicaid revenues.

It would allow the state to capture approximately $234 million in new Federal matching dollars by accelerating payments and converting grant programs to a fee-for-service basis. If all the funds are utilized to attain the maximum Federal reimbursement, it will allow the state to pay an estimated $390 million in Medicaid claims.

“This is another opportunity for us to capture additional Federal dollars to pay for health care and human services that are being provided throughout Illinois,” Schoenberg said. “We need to closely examine areas of Medicaid spending to ensure that we are squeezing the maximum value for every dollar we spend to help those in need. Streamlining services and providing greater efficiency will allow us to save money and provide more health care and human services.”

Another bill is designed to reduce the debts associated with the unfunded liabilities of the state’s pension systems.

According to the Pew Center on the States, Illinois’s unfunded liability is currently $74 billion — the largest unfunded pension liability in the nation.

The state has set just 54 percent of the amount required to pay benefits owed to workers statewide.

Senate Bill 3776 requires that when the increase in the employment cost index from the previous fiscal year exceeds 2 percent, the comptroller will transfer revenues exceeding that 2 percent to the pension stabilization fund.

This will require the State to automatically make additional payments to its outstanding liability, similar to making supplemental payments on a mortgage.

“Once the state’s economy begins to recover and state revenues start to increase, a trigger mechanism will be in place to automatically make additional payments to our pension liabilities above and beyond what the state is require to pay annually,” Schoenberg said. “By guaranteeing a percentage of additional revenue to our pension funds in addition to regular contributions we are required to make, we will reduce both the outstanding liability and the length of time necessary to stabilize our pension systems.”

Finally, Senate Bill 3383 would create a revolving loan program to provide short-term, no interest loans to health and human service providers. The loans would be funded by proceeds from the issuance of bonds totaling $300 million and are backed by receipts from the cigarette tax act.

This bill is a response to the negative impact on many health and human services providers of delays in payments from the State.

The Illinois Department of Human Services estimates that as many as 87 of the community mental health agencies that contract with the department are experiencing grave financial risk, including massive layoffs, service cut-backs, and even possible closings.

The bills now moves to the Illinois House for consideration. 

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