Calling the Illinois 2013 budget a "rendezvous with reality," Gov. Quinn proposed cuts in state programs, facilities and jobs in the hundreds of millions of dollars. He also set April 17th as the day for General Assembly work groups to report their plans for solving the state's multi-billion dollar pension and Medicaid shortfalls.
"We must repair this broken system. And we must do it now. It is imperative to get this job done this year," Quinn said.
The governor did not make specific suggestions on how to reform the pension system and Medicaid, which are the biggest deficit drivers in Illinois.
"Very light on the solutions and very heavy on the rhetoric," Senator Martin Sandoval, (D) Chicago, said.
"It's going to take leadership by the governor. You don't solve big problems like Medicaid and pension by giving a speech, walking down to your office and expecting the legislature to come up with solutions," Senator Bill Brady, (R) Bloomington, said.
Not once was Quinn interrupted by applause during his 30 minute speech in which he confirmed he'll recommend the closings of dozens of welfare offices, two state prisons, and six corrections department parolee transition centers.
"The need for lower spending in our budget gives us no choice. In times like these, we must be accountable," Quinn said.
"We need a plan to make sure that this doesn't impact the communities, where these folks go back to," Toi Hutchinson, (D) Olympia Fields, said. "There are a lot of moving pieces that we're gonna have to talk about and I'm not sure that were quite there yet."
The governor claims his cuts will set state spending back to pre-2008 levels. But Republicans note that in 2013 the Quinn administration plans to spend a half billion dollars more than in 2012.
"We cannot increase spending. Period. The end. Right now. We just can't do it," Senator Christine Radogno, (R) minority leader, said.