Jim Dey: Quinn says major cuts ahead if tax hike expires

Jim Dey: Quinn says major cuts ahead if tax hike expires

GOP critics say governor hasn't kept promises to pay state's debts

Fresh from proposing that legislators make the state's temporary 5 percent income tax permanent, Gov. Pat Quinn warned Friday that public education in Illinois will suffer grievously if his recommendation is not followed.

"There is no way the University of Illinois is not going to have major cutbacks if we do not get our budget," Quinn said during a telephone interview with The News-Gazette.

He said that if the 5 percent tax is not made permanent and falls back to 3.75 percent on Jan. 1, there will be "severe cutbacks" across state government, including "cutting education in a very draconian way."

Democratic legislative leaders responded favorably this week to Quinn's budget address. Both House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton indicated that they would urge the Democrat-controlled House and Senate to move with dispatch on Quinn's tax proposal, suggesting it will be enacted when the General Assembly adjourns by the end of May.

Quinn welcomed that support.

"It's imperative to get it done in the regular legislative session," he said.

During his talk with The News-Gazette, Quinn took the opportunity to lampoon his Republican critics — "these apostles of doing nothing" — by suggesting that their opposition to making the tax hike permanent would "cause great harm to our state."

On Wednesday, Quinn released a recommended $38.6 billion state budget for the fiscal year that takes effect on July 1. That includes a recommended appropriation of $668 million for the University of Illinois, essentially flat funding. But it's far better than having to endure the 12.5 percent cut UI officials have been told to expect if the tax hike is not made permanent.

Republicans have accused Quinn and his various executive branch department directors of making worst-case scenario budget projections in an effort to stampede legislators into a permanent tax hike. They further have charged that the 2011 lame-duck income tax increase has been poorly used and that promises to pay off the state's multibillion-dollar backlog of unpaid bills and stabilize the budget have not been kept.

Not surprisingly, Quinn rejected those assertions Friday, charging that it's Republicans, including his gubernatorial foe Bruce Rauner, who have not been honest.

Quinn said the state has reduced its backlog of unpaid bills from $9.9 billion to $5 billion and that he plans eventually to "get to a 30-day payment cycle."

"We're getting very close to that now," he said, while citing a report by Chicago's Civic Federation estimating that the state's unpaid bills will skyrocket to $23 billion if the temporary tax is not made permanent.

Quinn cast his budget recommendations as part of an effort to achieve "fundamental tax reform," suggesting that he wants to place more emphasis on the state's income tax so that Illinois can reduce overall property taxes.

Among his budget proposals is a $500 annual rebate for homeowners. He also proposed doubling the state's earned-income tax credit for low-income earners and appropriating an extra $50 million in aid for college students.

Never shy about taking the fight to his opposition — either Democrat or Republican — Quinn was surprisingly reticent about addressing two proposed state constitutional amendments, a so-called millionaire's tax proposed by Speaker Madigan and a more comprehensive progressive income tax plan suggested by legislative Democrats, including state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson.

A House committee this week approved Madigan's millionaire tax, which would impose a 3 percent surcharge on incomes in excess of $1 million a year. The same committee rejected another plan that would allow the imposition of undisclosed but multiple tax rates on higher levels of income.

Quinn is a longtime supporter of a progressive tax plan but largely declined comments on the Madigan proposal — he has said it's "worth considering" — because the governor is not a part of the process of amending the Illinois Constitution. Under the rules, legislators can put a proposal on the ballot and let voters decide whether to pass it.

Long an advocate of the citizen initiative process, Quinn called it a "real healthy exercise for democracy."

Quinn did not spend all his time discussing state budget issues. A longtime basketball fan whose brother is a retired high school coach, the governor said he's been watching the NCAA tournament and backing the University of Dayton, a fresh face, and, like him, considered "an underdog."

Dayton beat Stanford on Thursday to reach today's Elite Eight.

Quinn also said he's a big Illinois basketball fan who expects John Groce's team to move up the ladder. Quinn described Groce as a "driven guy" who he expects to succeed.

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billbtri5 wrote on March 29, 2014 at 8:03 am

the State has never taken in more revenue than is right now and all they talk about is more taxes...

Sid Saltfork wrote on March 29, 2014 at 11:03 am

Yes, "the state has never taken in more revenue than is right now"; and it will end when the temporary tax increase expires.  The tax hike is to make the temporary tax permanent.  If that happens, people should demand that spending be curtailed to only necessities.  No state grants except for roads, and education.  No new Build Illinois, or other named pork barrel project.  The permanent tax should be used to pay the state's debts, and obligations first.  Following that, the revenue should only be used for the state's needs, not wants or whims.  Just as responsible families must pay their bills first, the state should also. 

EdRyan wrote on March 29, 2014 at 4:03 pm

Extending the extra tax doesn't mean it must be permanent.  It should only continue as a temporary measure.

787 wrote on March 29, 2014 at 5:03 pm

I always enjoy how it is one threat after another with these democrats.  That's all it is... threat after threat after threat.  And they're the ones who created this mess.  The democrats have run this state for years now.

Anyway, thanks for the threat, Governor.  We all appreciate it.

cretis16 wrote on March 29, 2014 at 6:03 pm

Another Quinn lie..( number 1,480). Why do voters keep sending the same people back  year after year. There is absolutely no hope for Illinois as long as we keep the same people in office and keep the same ONE PARTY RULE.

Sid Saltfork wrote on March 31, 2014 at 9:03 am

The gullible keep playing the one party versus the other party con-game.  It is both parties in Illinois that has kept the corruption going for over at least the past forty years.  Two of the past three governors went to prison; and they were members of both parties.  Bill Cellini went to prison over his corrupt political games for profit with Thompson, Edgar, Ryan, and Blago.  Still after all of that; the gullible fight for their party just as Cubs versus Cards fans do in Illinois.  Sadly, the gullible keep the corruption continuing.  Cartoon political ads have replaced debates.....   

cretis16 wrote on April 01, 2014 at 10:04 am

If we had 3rd party candidates it would break the one party rule. Quinn will keep the governership, Madigan will rule and one party will continue. Yes, both   Repubs and Demos are the same color, but I dont see how we gain any type of middle ground or push back if we keep one party in power with all 3 branches in one hand.

chief21 wrote on April 01, 2014 at 4:04 pm

Quit letting the Democrats off the hook by saying.." everybodies doing that." In the last 10 years more people have left Illinois than moved into Illinois...and those that were crazy enough to move to Illinois were lower incomes than those that left. If the State had retained those that moved, there would be some semblance of enough money for everyone. Why give these thieves even more money?

Sid Saltfork wrote on April 02, 2014 at 3:04 pm

That is the problem; "everybodies doing that".  It happened during Thompson's long tenure; and it continues.  Both political parties do it.  Why does it have to be only two choices?  Both are crooked; and have been for years.  At some point in time, one of the candidates is going to run on "I will steal less than the other guy".  There should be more parties with candidates to choose from than the existing two.  The two previous governors of both parties were convicted of corruption.  All the noise over parties is nothing more than the Cubs versus the Cards mentality.