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Quinn Calls For Tax Structure Changes, Community Investment

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CHICAGO - Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said he wants to overhaul the state's tax structure to ease burdens on the poor and work on a scholarship initiative for college students.

Quinn offered no specifics on either plan Friday in a 15-minute address at the headquarters for the Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH coalition in Chicago. But Quinn did call on financial institutions receiving federal help to step up.

"If big behemoths banks are getting billions of dollars at zero to 1 percent interest, then they should plow that money back into the community," Quinn said. "Education is the key to economic empowerment. Jobs follow brain power."

Quinn said further details on his plan would come at his budget address on March 18.

About 100 business leaders and clergymen attended the event where Jackson, an advocate for low interest student loans, spoke about the difficulties facing students entering the job market.

"You have guaranteed debt but not a guaranteed job," Jackson said.

Quinn shared his personal experience of trying to pay student loans for his recently college-graduated son.

"I'll be 102 when I pay off his college loans," Quinn joked.

Both Quinn and Jackson talked about the challenges the poor face in the dismal economy. Quinn said the state's tax system should be based on the ability to pay and Illinois relies too heavily on income tax.

"The tax system shouldn't be taxing people into poverty," he said. "There's something wrong with our state when there are more tax breaks to people raising thoroughbred horses than to people raising kids."

Quinn became governor Jan. 29 when former Gov. Rod Blagojevich was removed from office. Among the biggest tasks Quinn has inherited is bridging the state budget deficit.

Illinois faces a budget hole that could reach $9 billion next year.