Illinois pensions would eat up about a fifth of state spending under the budget Governor Pat Quinn proposed Wednesday. As IPR’s Amanda Vinicky reports, Quinn say it’s the most difficult budget he's ever submitted to the General Assembly.
Legislators were stoic as they listened to Quinn's 25-minute budget speech ... there were only three real rounds of applause: when Quinn began the speech, when he ended it, and when he saluted former state Comptroller Dawn Clark Netsch, who died Tuesday. Legislators say there was little to clap about. Quinn says because Illinois has to spend more of its money on state employees' underfunded retirement systems, he has no choice but to cut education and other priorities. "And it is only a preview of the pain that is to come if this General Assembly does not act decisively on comprehensive pension reform." While Quinn's framing his budget as austere, it asks for half a billion dollars more than a spending cap approved by the House. And it does highlight some ways to bring in more money. The governor proposes closing what he calls "corporate tax "loopholes", he wants to eliminate unnecessary state commissions, and he signaled an openness to an expansion of gambling.