In his annual budget address Wednesday, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn laid the blame on the General Assembly for forcing him to cut spending on schools and other key state priorities. Quinn says the cost of pensions is "squeezing" Illinois' finances, to the point that he's calling for a $400 million hit to education. IPR’s Amanda Vinicky reports:
Governor Pat Quinn unveiled a budget that spends around $35 and a half billion dollars from the state's main checking account.One fifth of that would go toward the states' public pension systems. Quinn has continually asked the General Assembly to send him legislation that would save the state money by reducing state workers' and teachers' retirement benefits ... but no such measure has made it to his desk. In his speech, the Governor seemed to chastise legislators as he asked them what they're waiting for. "Illinois taxpayers are losing patience with your lack of action." House Republican Leader Tom Cross says the firm tone is warranted. But Senate GOP Leader Christine Radogno disagreed. While Quinn laid out some of what he wants in a pension overhaul, he didn't introduce a new plan or give many specifics. "The Governor's the one that has been woefully absent. The only thing that he's put out last spring, five point ... five dot-points. That is it. No legislation. Nothing." Quinn suggests suspending cost of living raises for retirees with higher pensions, and says current employees should pay more into their retirement benefits.