Governor's budget address "states the obvious"

By Anna Yee

March 6, 2013 Updated Mar 7, 2013 at 1:12 PM CDT

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- "I think he did an outstanding job with stating the obvious," said Illinois Representative Dave Leitch, (R) of the 73rd District.

For more on the Governor's 2014 budget address, head to http://www2.illinois.gov/gov/budget/Pages/default.aspx.

It's obvious Illinois has yet to balance its checkbook, and that has turned into a budget battle between pensions and education.

On Wednesday, Governor Quinn proposed slashing $400 million from public schools and colleges, red ink his own party members cannot accept.

"If we don't continue to invest in our young people," said State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, (D) 92th District. "We're not going to be able to attract jobs, because jobs are where people are educated."

"Schools are just stretched to the limit right now," said State Senator Dave Koehler, (D) of the 46th District. "So, if we're going to be serious of making education a priority, we have to figure out ways of resolving that issue."

Quinn also calls on legislators to reduce their own budgets by 5% and wants to suspend corporate loopholes to bring in millions of dollars.

"Sometimes you would call those (loopholes) incentives to come and do business and create the jobs," said IL Rep. Don Moffitt, (R) of the 74th District. "So, we want to be sure that we're still in competition with other states."

The Governor left tax hikes out of the plan this time, but it exceeds the $35 billion spending limit the House calculated.

"If you know that money's not going to be there at the end of the day, that's a cruel game," said IL Rep. Mike Unes, (R) of the 91st District.

Amidst the state's fiscal pressures, the Governor is adding pressure on his team. He makes it clear that the ball is in the court of the General Assembly to fix the pension problem, a plan that has members feeling defensive.

"To belittle, berate, and lecture the Illinois General Assembly, when he's failed to produce a bill, is unfair," said State Sen. Bill Brady, (R) of the 44th District. "And I think it hurt his cause."

"I think people in Illinois are craving leadership when it comes to pension reform," said IL Sen. Darin LaHood, (R) of the 37th District. "The Governor said we were going to address it in the veto session. We didn't do it. The Governor said we were going to address it in the lame duck session. We didn't do it, and here we are today."

While politicians blame each other, the pension debt in Illinois rises by $17 million a day.

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