Quinn talks about proposed budget cuts, closures

March 25, 2012 11:30:13 AM PDT
One day after presenting his budget, Gov. Pat Quinn spoke with ABC7 about the proposed cuts and closures.

Quinn says the nation's fifth-largest state is facing a real budget emergency.

"Well the only way to have a better budget is to roll up our sleeves and get the job done we can't put these problems off any longer, that has been done in the past," Gov. Quinn said. "We've cut the budget every year."

Watch the entire interview

Governor Quinn asked legislators to propose solutions to the state's three big fiscal challenges: escalating costs for public pensions, a nearly broken Medicaid system, and a loophole-rich tax code that penalizes the middle class. He says he has no magic wand to make money problems vanish.

"I am forceful. I am very forceful, I think unlike previous governors who didn't pay the proper amount into the pension system, all three years I have been governor I have paid the proper amount to make sure we begin the road to stability. I do tough things," Quinn said.

This year Springfield is pouring $5.2 billion into state pension funds -- nearly 15 percent of the entire budget. Quinn is closing 63 social service facilities including the Tamms Supermax Prison downstate.

"I came to office here after 10 years of governors who didn't do the right thing. One of them is in jail, the other is going to jail. I know how to lead," Quinn said.

With a budget being a blueprint for what an administration wants to get done-- this one seems to be about shrinking government. But it preserves education spending -- something Illinois' 41st governor wants to be remembered for

"I believe government should help everyday people go forward in life especially on education... I think we should always understand the foremost priority of state government is to educate," Quinn said.

The state has $33.9 billion to spend and the governor is correct in saying his operating budget is now lower than it was in 2008. On April 17th he said he'll present his line by line budget plan to legislators.

But asking for their ideas now and framing the debate this way is a strategic move. It puts them on notice that he expects them to help share the political pain of budget cuts.