Where did Ill. tax hike money go?

November 28, 2012 2:59:20 PM PST
Illinois lawmakers accomplished a few things in Springfield Wednesday.

The state senate voted to restore money Governor Pat Quinn cut to the Tamms Correctional Center, the women's prison in Dwight, and the Joliet youth center. Lawmakers will allow Chicago public school officials to wait until March before releasing their school closing list. And the governor and gambling proponents appear to be closer to a deal on a casino bill. A vote isn't expected until January.

The biggest bombshell out of Springfield Wednesday didn't come on the House floor it came in the offices of the state comptroller.

It's where we learned the 67-percent "temporary" tax increase enacted one year ago has brought in $10 billion in new money to the state. How much of went to the state's big backlog of unpaid bills?

"Not a lick. Nothing. And it was sold on the basis that it was going to pay off our debt. It all went into either Medicaid or pensions," said Judy Baar Topinka, (R) Illinois comptroller.

Meanwhile, behind closed doors lawmakers and the governor continue to be at odds over a long-term pension fix.

Some here predict there won't be a pension bill until the spring legislative session. The new fiscal year doesn't start until July 1.

"From a PR standpoint, messaging to the business community, bond markets, etc., we need to show we get it. The sooner we do this the better," said State Rep. Tom Cross, (R) House minority leader.

"It's not happening, bills are not coming to the floor for a vote, and I too am very frustrated by the timeline," said State Rep. Michelle Mussman, (D) Schaumburg.

Governor Quinn hoped his online "Squeezy" the Python campaign would gin up grassroots support for pension reform. But as of Wednesday, only 832 people have "liked" his pension page on Facebook.

With $90 billion in unfunded pension liability, Illinois would have to win the Powerball jackpot 163 times to pay off the pension debt.

"This is huge, this is so huge people can't even get their hands around the amount," said Topinka.


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