The governor outlined several new initiatives during his State of the State address he wants put in place, but Republican leaders wonder how he’ll pay for them. The governor wants more tax credits for businesses that hire recent war veterans and elimination of the natural gas tax utility tax, among other things. House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) asks… how?
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“They all look and sound good, but to come in and say I want you to spend another $500 million, and in another three weeks he’s going to come in and say I want you to borrow four to five billion dollars to pay bills,” he says. “How does that jive? It doesn’t jive. They all sound good, but can you afford them? I think we all know the answer to that.” The governor outlined what he calls a robust jobs agenda that seeks tax cuts for low income working families and businesses alike, after approving an income tax increase last January. Cross says that’s akin to a merchant raising prices, then having sales to appear sympathetic to certain groups. Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) says the governor barely touched on what they say is the state’s biggest problem: Medicaid and pension reform. Radogno says her party has crafted reform plans to no avail.
“[The ideas] were frankly ridiculed last year by the Senate president and yet they were exactly on target in terms of laying out what the problem was, things we’re willing to talk about in terms of solutions including major pension and Medicaid reform,” she says. “The Democrats, to date, have not chosen to engage.” Democrats were a bit terse in their reactions to the governor’s State of the State Address, particularly Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) who was stopped by the news media for only a few seconds. He later sent a written statement commending the governor on the accomplishments made in his first three years in office.
“We’ve just accomplished a lot when you think about in the last three years,” he says. “The governor’s identified a couple more areas, and we’ll look to his budget message to see what his proposals are, and continue to work to solve those problems. Pensions and Medicaid.” Controversial issues, such as cuts to Medicaid spending and adjusting benefits for state workers, aren’t often addressed during election years. Tom Cross says that’s no longer an excuse.