Trying to make up $2.7 billion, Gov. Pat Quinn says his job is to tell lawmakers not what they want to hear, but what they need to hear.  A $1-a-pack increase in the cigarette tax may have the lawmakers telling Quinn what he doesn’t want to hear: “No.”

But that proposal, meant to garner federal matching money, is part of Quinn’s Medicaid “stabilization” plan, which he rolled out Thursday afternoon. Half of the money would come from cuts and efficiencies across 58 areas, including trying to curb waste, fraud, and abuse. The cigarette plan would account for a quarter of it, as would reductions to health care providers.

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Quinn, who reminded reporters during a Capitol news conference that the tobacco tax has gone up more than once under Republican governors, says research indicates the tax has another effect: encouraging people to quit smoking, thus incurring less medical expense.

Quinn has said he will keep lawmakers in Springfield this summer if they cannot pass a Medicaid plan by the scheduled May 31 adjournment date.

(Copyright WBGZ Radio/