Governor's budget address forecasts faulty finances

Published 03/06 2013 05:01PM

Updated 03/06 2013 05:56PM

SPRINGFIELD -- Lawmakers will have to do some hard things to avoid a nasty state budget next year according to the governor. Quinn laid out his new budget proposal Wednesday. It's full of spending cuts. WCIA-3's Steve Staeger reports the governor really took aim at lawmakers.

He did his fair share of fingerpointing. He's been begging lawmakers for a year now to do something to the pension system. They've done nothing so far. Now, the governor has no choice but to cut where it hurts.

"This is the most difficult budget Illinois has ever faced."

Governor Quinn called his proposed budget a "preview of the pain." Consider it a glance into the future if nothing happens to the pension system.

"Our pension obligations have squeezed out funding for core services. Every day that passes without pension reform, the problem gets worse. That reality is very clear in the budget I submit today."

The budget proposal cuts $400 million in education. That includes a $278 million cut to primary and secondary education, plus $80 million to higher education. The governor says there's only one way to save students from those drastic cuts.

"The most important thing we can do to repair Illinois' finances right now is to reform our public pension systems."

Here's the problem: with the pension system so deep in the red, each year the state is paying more. In 2008, only 6% of the state's budget went to pensions. This coming year, 19% will go to the retirement system. Quinn has been pushing hard for a solution over the past year, but he says it's an issue he can't solve alone.

"If I could issue an Executive Order to resolve the pension crisis, I would. And, I would have done it a long time ago."

He gave lawmakers a little nudge with the hopes a bill might soon wind up on his desk.

"We all know that we must reform the Illinois public pension system. So, members of the General Assembly, what are you waiting for?"

Quinn's budget does have a few bright spots. It would pay about $2 billion in unpaid bills and it preserves funding for early childhood education and map grants.

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