Quinn offers new solutions to budget crisis

June 25, 2009 (SPRINGFIELD, Ill.) Governor Pat Quinn was in full response mode Thursday, answering those critics who say he has not proposed enough cuts in state government to ask for a tax increase. He offered more specifics in his effort to generate more revenue to save threatened social programs.

"Our corporate income tax proposal will be very modest indeed," said Gov. Quinn.

The Illinois Chamber of Commerce applauded the governor, even though he did not tell the members and guests what he meant by "very modest." He explained that he would continue his campaign to raise the individual income tax rate from 3 to 4.5 percent, or 50 percent, but would increase the corporate rate from 4.8 to 6 percent, or only 25 percent.

At a news conference, Quinn explained the lower corporate rate was an attempt to attract more lawmakers into the pro-tax increase camp.

"I have to work with legislatures, both Democrat and Republican, on a common plan to rescue our state in an economic emergency," said Gov. Quinn.

Quinn also responded to demands that he be more specific on how he will shrink the government, saying he will layoff 2,200 state workers and require those who keep their jobs to take 12 furlough days. He also will ask unions for a wage freeze while repeating his call for a two-tiered pension system wherein newly hired workers would get lesser benefits.

In the House next week, the governor will need Republican votes to get the three-fifths majority required to pass a tax increase. He got none during his first try last month. But Bob Biggens of Elmhurst indicated that with enough concessions he could become a convert.

"It will be difficult to come up with a solution that doesn't have a tax increase, but I'm not sure what that tax increase would be. I'm not sure how I would vote on it. In this business you never say never. So I'm not saying never," said Rep. Bob Biggens, (R) Elmhurst.

Quinn said too much is at stake in Illinois for tax-increase-reluctant lawmakers to worry about next year's elections.

"I have to run in an election and I'm willing to take my chances with the voters doing the right thing for the people," Gov. Quinn said.

Quinn has only five days left to change the minds of enough lawmakers in both parties to push through his tax increase plan. By law, a budget of some sort must be approved by the legislature and signed by the governor for state government to operate past midnight June 30.

ABC7's Charles Thomas has more on the political beat in his Precinct 7 Blog.

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