Governor Pat Quinn to deliver 2015 Illinois budget address

March 25, 2014 (CHICAGO)

Governor Pat Quinn's Illinois budget address on Wednesday could be the most crucial speech of his political career.

Quinn's pitch to lawmakers comes as Illinois grapples with a major financial dilemma and serious re-election challenges for the governor.

When Pat Quinn speaks Wednesday in Springfield, lawmakers will hear whether or not he favors extending the "temporary" state income tax increase signed by the governor in 2011.

''Governor Quinn promised when he raised taxes that he would fix Illinois' budget. Taxpayers gave him $31 billion new dollars, new dollars since 2011 and he hasn't fixed it,'' said Ted Dabrowski of the Illinois Policy Institute.

When the additional two percentage points begin to expire at year's end, state senate staff estimates the 2014 budget will be left with a nearly $3 billion deficit.

''I'll lay out with specificity, with concrete details exactly what the budget's going to be,'' Quinn said.

The governor was endorsed for re-election yesterday by the Service Employees International Union, whose members depend heavily on social services spending. Quinn said he'll answer all questions about what programs, if any, might be cut for next fiscal year.

''Matter of fact we have a blue print for the next five fiscal years,'' Quinn said.

Ralph Martire, a budget expert at the Center for Tax and Budget Acountability, says the Illinois budget is already cut to the bone.

''We can't really look to cutting anymore,'' Martire said.

Martire says lawmakers could generate more revenue with a push for a more fair, federal-style progressive tax system.

''The best way to do that is to have an amendment to our constitution to have a lower rates on our income tax for lower levels of income and higher rates for higher levels of income,'' Martire said.

''We've got a million people that are underemployed or unemployed. And that will only get worse if we continue to raise taxes,'' Dabrowski said.

Both sides in the tax debate agree that whatever Quinn says about taxes on Wednesday will be a defining moment, not only in the 2014 campaign for governor, but also for Illinois' fiscal future.

ABC 7 Eyewitness News will have reports from Springfield on Wednesday for the governor's budget address including, highlights and reactions from lawmakers listening to the speech.

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