Lawmakers work on budget amid protests

June 25, 2009 5:27:32 AM PDT
Thousands of protestors packed the state capitol to send a message to Illinois lawmakers.Governor Quinn has convened a special session to try to come up with a plan to fill the $9 billion budget hole.

When the House speaker left the meeting using a back door and other leaders departed separately it was not a good sign.

"Not much has changed in the last few weeks if not the last month," said Rep. Tom Cross, (R) House minority leader.

But Gov. Quinn, who called the two-day special session to get an income tax increase, tried to put a positive spin on what did or did not happen.

"I think there's an understanding that we'll have to make some cuts in the various operations of the bureaucracy of the government," said Gov. Pat Quinn, (D) Illinois.

But later, the governor admitted his plan for lawmakers this week to approve a two year increase in the tax rate from three to four and a half per cent had failed and he'll need another day.

"I think next week, probably Tuesday, we'll be back here," said Quinn.

Hours earlier, the governor rallied with an estimated 5,000 social service agency workers and clients who support a tax increase to keep their programs afloat.

"Human services is vital for the poor, for the families. And, you know what, why hit the poor?" said one protestor.

One anti-tax lawmaker called the rally an attempt to put him and others on a guilt trip.

"They want to let us know what it means to them. It's the way that it's been going the last few weeks," said Rep. Jim Durkin, (R) Western Suburbs.

And a member of Quinn's own party, state comptroller Dan Hynes, said the governor should consider a temporary budget.

"Government must look within itself, eliminate programs that are unnecessary, scale back programs that can be modified, find alternative revenue resources before we ask taxpayers to pay more . We have to make sure we work together," said Hynes.

The governor revealed a plan on Tuesday night to borrow to pay the state's pension obligations and free up another $2.2 billion. But even with that, Quinn says, Illinois still needs a tax increase.

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


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