Budget cuts to headline Quinn budget speech

February 20, 2012 3:23:06 PM PST
Governor Pat Quinn plans to solve the state's fiscal crisis with deep budget cuts.

The governor will deliver his proposed budget on Wednesday.

Barely thirteen months after Quinn signed into law the largest income tax increase in state history, he will return to Springfield this week to ask for unprecedented spending cuts.

The governor's last public appearance before his Wednesday speech in Springfield was in south suburban Markham. There, he appeared during a Black History Month event honoring World War Two's Tuskegee Airmen.

Later, he told reporters his upcoming budget would literally turn back the clock on state spending.

"Our operations budget for the coming fiscal year is lower than it was in fiscal '08," said Quinn.

The governor will ask for 9 percent cuts in every state department and constitutional office, the only exceptions being education and the state police.

To raise revenue, he will ask lawmakers to close corporate tax loopholes.

He will outline his plan to reduce spending on the state pension system and for reforms and restructuring of the state's Medicaid system to save $2.7 billion.

"We have to reduce the spending in order to preserve the whole program," said Quinn. "If it isn't preserved and restructured it'll collapse."

It is unclear if the governor will ask lawmakers to borrow billions to pay the state's backlog of unpaid bills.

Lawmaker Mary Flowers worries the cuts could worsen the state's fragile economy.

"The more cuts you have, the deeper more people are going to go into poverty and the more the burden is going to be because there's more burden for people without their houses - more burden for people without their jobs - homelessness," said Rep. Mary Flowers (D-Chicago/South Suburbs).

The governor says he will ask the general assembly to increase spending on education, specifically for preschool children and tuition assistance for college students.

"Our education budget is up, it has to be, because that's how we're going to have good jobs today and tomorrow," said Quinn.

Back to the spending cuts, the governor would not be specific but he says to expect he'll recommend the closing of some state facilities. That could include anything from state mental hospitals to prisons.

When the state cuts spending by the billions of dollars, that is money removed from the Illinois economy that could have worsening affect on unemployment.