Quinn speaks out about budget crisis

June 18, 2009 4:33:19 AM PDT
Illinois lawmakers will return to Springfield next week to try and iron out a deal to fix the state's budget mess. Governor Quinn is holding firm on his call for an increase in the state's income tax.

"It's much better to help your neighbor even if it means a tax increase," said Gov. Pat Quinn.

Governor Quinn told ABC7 that unlike many state lawmakers he isn't worried about voters turning against him because he supports a tax increase to help balance the $9 billion budget deficit.

"I have found in my travels across Illinois in the past 20 weeks, people are for me. They want to help me. They want to help our state," said Gov. Quinn.

Quinn says the budget approved last month by state lawmakers -- the majority of whom belong to the governor's own democrat party -- would force him to cut by 50 percent virtually every human service program offered by the state; that is, unless he gets a tax increase.

"I'm asking the people of Illinois to support a tax increase from 3 percent to 4.5 percent for two years," said Quinn.

During the regular session in May, 28 Democrats in the state House rejected Quinn's tax bill. Their leader says because no Republicans voted for it.

"There were a certain number of House Democrats who said, quite flatly, 'I'm not going on a roll call where it's Democrats only,'" said Rep. Michael Madigan, (D) Illinois House speaker.

As for the cuts, Republicans say the governor is bluffing.

"I believe it is a manufactured crisis to the extent we do not need to have those draconian cuts on July 1," said State Sen. Christine Radogno, (R) Senate minority leader.

But the Quinn says after he lays off 10,000 state workers to cut the first few billion dollars there's no place else for more billions except in the grants the state annually makes to social service agencies that serve children, the elderly, disabled and veterans.

When Quinn gets lawmakers back in Springfield next week, a desperate governor says he will work the aisles of both chambers.

"I'll look them straight in the eye and tell them if you vote in favor of revenue, you are letting the people of Illinois down and I think in your heart you know that," said Quinn.

In next week's special session, a tax increase would need a three-fifths majority in both the House and Senate in order to pass. Right now there is no bill scheduled to be called.

Dozens of other states have been affected by the recession and are facing similar budget problems.

Charles has more on the political beat in his Precinct 7 Blog.


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