Special session to deal with budget mess

June 23, 2009 4:20:53 AM PDT
A special session to deal with Illinois' budget mess begins Tuesday. But there doesn't appear to be enough support for the tax increase that Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn says is needed to avoid more than $9 billion in spending cuts. Everything from political careers to services for the poor, elderly and the disabled are at stake. Because a new budget must pass with a super majority, the Democrat- controlled House will need some Republican support to pass a tax increase.

But on Monday, Quinn took his excitement for the increase directly to the people in the Humboldt Park neighborhood.

Gov. Pat Quinn literally jumped up and down at a rally against threatened state budget cuts.

Gov. Quinn may want to try jumping through a hoop instead because that is what it's going to take to convince Republican lawmakers that a state income tax increase is necessary to get the Illinois out of a huge deficit.

"This is not personal, it's not political, it's mathematical. We've got to have enough money in revenue to equal our expenditures," said Quinn.

Quinn rallied support from a crowd of social service agency workers and their clients. The governor says a tax increase would avoid a 50 percent cut in the human services budget.

"We don't believe in throwing people overboard in tough times. We never have and we never will as long as I'm governor of Illinois. We're going to take care of people," said Quinn.

But Republicans say taking care of people should be done by controlling spending. So far House Republicans will not budge on the income tax increase and Democrats need at least one of their votes to get a the increase passed.

"There is a sensitivity to human services but it's also a sensitivity to a whole statewide issue of a budget that's not balanced and a culture that has got us to this point of spending money we don't have," said Rep. Tom Cross, (R) House minority leader.

Both sides will try to hammer something out in special session Tuesday and Wednesday.

Roosevelt University political professor Paul Green says eventually something will be worked out but probably not this week.

"You can't cut and efficiency your way out of this mess. There's got to be new revenue. Perhaps for the Republicans it could be some kind of reform of the pension system which is way out of whack," said Prof. Paul Green.

Green says naturally politics is going to play a big role in Springfield, especially for Republicans. Petitions for statewide office primaries are due in August. So no one is going to want to be the one to vote for a tax increase so close to that deadline.

The two-day special sessions usually cost taxpayers about $80,000.


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