Speech brings ideas, few details
SPRINGFIELD — In his State of the State address Wednesday, Gov. Pat Quinn mentioned three new tax credits and at least three new programs, but provided little detail on any of them.
— Elimination of Illinois' natural gas utility tax on both businesses and consumers. Quinn called the tax "regressive," and said that by abolishing it, Illinois would be the only state in the Midwest without the levy. Some Republicans lawmakers said they liked the idea but questioned whether the state could afford it. The president of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Doug Whitley, estimated the cost at "somewhere north of $150 million."
— An Illinois Child Tax Credit that would be worth $100 a year to a typical family of four, according to the governor. It would "stimulate consumer demand," he said. It also would cost an estimated $130 million.
— A tax credit "for every unemployed veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan that a company hires." Administration officials said they did not know how much it would cost.
— Expansion of MAP college and university scholarships.
"While nearly 150,000 Illinois students received state MAP scholarships last year to attend college," Quinn said, "just as many qualified applicants were denied because of lack of funding."
Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, wondered aloud how the governor would pay for the additional scholarships unless he eliminated those going to students who attend for-profit schools. In that case, he said, he could support the initiative.
— "A major investment in early childhood education this year," Quinn said. He offered no details.
— Upgrading an unknown number of classrooms at an unknown cost "with modern labs, smart technology, digital books, high-speed Internet access and 21st century efficiency."