Quinn pushes for borrowing to save the state budget

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Gov. Pat Quinn said Wednesday that borrowing should be part of a state budget compromise and accused his Republican gubernatorial opponent, state Sen. Bill Brady, of creating “chaos” to defeat a pension-borrowing plan.

Speaking after the Governors’ Prayer Breakfast, Quinn also refused to declare his income tax hike idea dead and hinted he might keep lawmakers in Springfield if they do not produce an acceptable budget plan.

“When the legislature wants to drift off and not focus on doing important things for the people, the governor has to call them back,” Quinn said.

Lawmakers abruptly left Springfield Friday without approving a spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1. There is no schedule for them to return to finish, but unless the Democrat-controlled legislature passes a budget by May 31, they’ll need Republican votes to do so.

Three times last week, the House rejected plans to borrow money to make a required $3.8 billion payment to the pension systems next year. Quinn said that was a mistake.

“We have to borrow. I’ve said that from Day One,” he said. “Every state in the union does this.”

Quinn said the state can borrow money more cheaply than state vendors who are not being paid and are owed billions of dollars.

“I know the Republican candidate for governor was running around the House trying to create chaos last week,” Quinn said. “We’re not going back to those days of (George) Ryan and (Rod) Blagojevich, when it was all about politics and political posturing.”

Quinn dismissed Brady’s budget proposals, including a 10 percent across-the-board spending cut, as “fakery.”

A Brady spokesman said Quinn hasn’t shown any leadership on the budget.

Instead, Quinn is “reduced to unhelpful finger-pointing,” Brady spokesman John Hoffman said in an e-mailed response. “He should be focused on controlling the overspending being put into this budget.”

No House Republicans voted for the borrowing plan.

The governor said he would talk to members of both parties about it, but so far that hasn’t included the two Republican representatives who represent Springfield -- Raymond Poe of Springfield and Rich Brauer of Petersburg.

“It’s been a couple of months since we had a one-on-one,” said Poe, who added he will not support additional borrowing.

Brauer, too, said he hasn’t had any contact with Quinn since the session went on hiatus.

Quinn wouldn’t declare dead his call for a 33 percent hike in the state income tax, even though there’s been no indication all year that the House is willing to consider it. The tax hike is to be spent on education, which otherwise is in line for a $1.3 billion budget reduction.

“We have to properly fund education,” Quinn said. “We’re not going to let anybody go home until that happens,” Quinn said. “I’m going to take on legislators who think they can just do the political thing and kick the voters down the road.”