Gov. Pat Quinn spent much of his budget address Wednesday reprimanding lawmakers for their inaction on pension restructuring. The governor scolded lawmakers for delay, as pension costs now eat up 19 percent of the budget. “If I could issue an executive order to resolve the pension crisis, I would, and I would have done it a long time ago. But democracy requires action by the executive branch and the legislative branch. It’s time for you to legislate,” he told members of the General Assembly in his speech in the Illinois House chamber.
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The budget proposal itself, $35.6 billion, is already at odds with House revenue estimates by $500 million, and it’ll be interesting to see how lawmakers deal with the new AFSCME agreement, which provides raises that were promised in 2011 but never given, but which also is expected to reduce state costs for employee health insurance by $900 million over three years. The budget cuts education by $400 million, which the governor didn’t mention in his speech.
The governor also called for closing so-called corporate tax loopholes to generate revenue to pay down the state’s $9 billion backlog of unpaid bills, but specified no other tax increases. The proposal increases funding for veterans’ homes, and eliminates 75 state boards and commissions which are either dormant, have served their purpose or are redundant. The proposal is for the fiscal year that begins on July 1.