The state has a $13 billion deficit. It is the worst financial crisis in the state's history.
Jerry Stermer, the governor's chief of staff, briefed reporters Tuesday evening about some general points included in the governor's fiscal 2011 budget. He said that the Pat Quinn recovery program will not work unless it includes new revenue which reporters took to mean an income tax increase. However, Stermer would not say how much of a tax increase might be necessary. He said Illinois residents have to wait for the governor's formal budget speech Wednesday at noon.
For the past two weeks, the Quinn administration has used a Web site to gather some 12,000 comments from citizens recommending how to reduce the state's budget deficit. The governor wants to use furlough days he says to help generate $203 million in savings on employees. He will recommend cutting education by $1.3 billion. That could have a dramatic impact around the state. Local government distributions would be reduced by $300 million which might cause tax increases in local governments trying to make up the difference. Human services including childcare and care for the mentally disabled would be cut by $276 million. ABC7 has learned that would mean the complete elimination of some of those programs. And health programs, including those that pay for prescription drugs, would be reduced by $325 million.
Other savings would come from pension reform, a two-tiered pension system for new state employees, the rebidding of all state contracts, over $1 million, and consolidating office space leased by Illinois around the state. And to create new jobs, the governor says he will recommend a new tax credit for small businesses.
"This tax credit will work with employers of 50 or less employees and provide up to $2,500 tax credit for each full-time job the small business creates during the next year," said Stermer.
The governor is already being met with resistance within his own Democratic Party. House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton have both expressed strong reservations about including an income tax increase in any plan to solve Illinois' deficit.