GOP state senators: Cut, don't borrow

March 24, 2011 3:53:57 PM PDT
The Illinois budget crisis was food for thought at a State Senate Republican breakfast Thursday morning.

Party members say Democratic Governor Pat Quinn's income tax increase does not take a big enough bite out of the state's deficit and they have their own budget plan.

Nearly three months after the largest income tax increase in Illinois history, the state's fiscal crisis, at least in the near term, has not improved.

Put simply, tax increase monies are not arriving quickly enough in Springfield to settle the state's huge debt, and there is stiff resistance to a plan borrow money to create cash flow:

At the breakfast, six suburban Republican state senators vowed a fight to the finish against Quinn's plan to borrow money to pay overdue bills.

"Borrow! Another 8.4 or 8.7 billion. That is just unbelievable," said Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale).

The governor, who in January signed a bill to increase the state income tax by 67 percent, wants a bond issue to generate cash immediately to pay off the state's backlog of bills, many of which are six to nine months in arrears.

"We think that it's better that the State of Illinois bear that burden rather than have these small businesses that employ people have to wait six to eight months to have their bills paid," said Quinn.

The Republicans also want the Democratic-controlled general assembly to cut spending by $5 billion, including about a billion from public education.

"We've got to cut back the spending or we have got a disaster staring us in the face," said Sen. Chris Lauzen (R-Aurora).

Meanwhile, Universal Family Connection Executive Director Audra Rowe says the state still owes her group $400,000 for work done last summer. The youth services agency has laid off several workers and ordered nearly five weeks of furlough days for others.

"It's becoming increasingly difficult to keep our doors open, keep our employees paid and to service our clients in the way that we'd like to," said Rowe.

But Senate Republicans, who in the last election gained enough members to end the Democrats' supermajority, will not budge on borrowing, believing instead that spending cuts are the best way out of the fiscal mess.

"It's not in Governor Quinn or the Democrats' DNA to cut the state budget," sad Dillard. "We've got to stop borrowing. We've got to stop spending."

"There's some in Springfield, I fear, that feel that this is all about politics, and you make deals and all that," said Quinn. "This is about everyday people and their jobs and businesses that are owed money by the state of Illinois."

The Republicans indicated Thursday morning that they would consider supporting a plan to borrow money to pay the state Medicaid bills if it means qualifying for additional federal funding and saving the money the state money in the long run.

Dillard: Too early to consider 2014 guv run

Dillard was a primary candidate for Governor in 2008.

He says that he has been on speaking tours around the state, but that it is too early to consider another run for governor in 2014.