A new report says the state is making progress in dealing with its budget crisis. 
There’s still a long way to go and painful spending cuts or tax increases are needed to get the state out of a hole, according to the Report of the State Budget Crisis Task Force.  But there has been progress in cutting spending, even if state budget director Jerry Stermer isn’t happy about it.
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“We’ve reduced education funding and human services funding by billions of dollars. We’ve reduced our capacity to provide pre-school education for 17,000 children,” he said mournfully.  The state has also enacted a pension program for government workers hired since last year that caps benefits and raises the retirement age. Stermer says school districts have experienced higher-than-expected turnover, so the number of employees governed by the new rules is greater than anticipated.
The state also enacted Medicaid reform this year that are designed to save $1.3 billion, but much of that has yet to be realized.  The big remaining issues are pension reductions of some sort for state employees and retirees, and the expiration of the 2 percentage point income tax increase at the end of 2014. The state has a budget deficit now estimated at $3 billion.
(Copyright WBGZ / www.AltonDailyNews.com )