Quinn may borrow for pension

But option requires GOP support he's unlikely to get

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

SPRINGFIELD -- With a May 31 deadline looming to wrap up the budget, Gov. Quinn continued to push a long shot plan Monday to borrow $3.7 billion for a pension payment while embracing a group of discontented Democrats who introduced their own ideas to cut spending by more than a billion dollars.

While Quinn's plan to borrow to make a pension payment has been pegged as the lesser of two evils, it requires at least some Republican support, which he doesn't seem likely to get. Lawmakers may ultimately decide to skip the payment altogether, an action that will cost the state billions of dollars down the line.

"You have a fiduciary duty to do the right thing, not the political thing," Quinn said.

Quinn refused to consider what would happen if borrowing doesn't get the 71 votes needed to pass, even though only 59 Democrats voted in favor of it earlier this month before a parliamentary maneuver postponed the roll call.

"I'm not going to anticipate anything other than [it passing]," Quinn said.

However, Quinn did seem to approve of $1.2 billion in cuts outlined by some Democratic lawmakers unhappy with how the budget process has played out.

"Just about all of the things they've talked about I've tried already," Quinn said. "If there's a renewed vision by members of the Legislature, both houses, majority vote, that they can get done, that's fine by me."

The proposed cuts include $400 million to education and $300 million to state agencies -- a measure that is already a part of the budget that passed the Senate and is circulating the House. Also included is a provision that will require state retirees to pay premiums on their health care, which would save an additional $100 million.

"I'm not excited about any of these spending reductions. I didn't come to Springfield to say 'no.' I came to say 'yes.' But this is what's necessary in this time," said Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook).

However, the cuts will just make a dent in the state's $13 billion deficit. Republican House spokeswoman Sara Wojcicki said GOP legislators have yet to discuss the Democrats' plan and are unsure if they would support it.