CHICAGO — Lawmakers will return to Springfield next week to try to pass a budget, but Gov. Pat Quinn refused to say Friday whether he would sign a spending plan that delayed making the state's pension contributions.
"That's something that we're striving mightily to avoid," Quinn told reporters.
The Democratic governor continues to push a borrowing plan to make the $3.7 billion contribution. Lawmakers have been cool to the idea and it would require at least some Republican support.
The Senate passed a budget that would delay making the pension payments while the House has rejected borrowing.
"We've made it very clear to the legislators of both parties in both houses that pension borrowing is what's in the best interest of the taxpayers of Illinois and the people of Illinois and the pension funds of Illinois and so we aren't going to be thinking of any other alternative," Quinn said.
Sara Wojcicki, spokeswoman for House Republican Leader Tom Cross, said they don't know what kind of budget plan Democrats will push next week. Republicans have opposed borrowing and Wojcicki said they haven't seen a change in what Democrats are proposing.
Illinois is facing a $13 billion budget deficit and lawmakers are trying to wrap up a new budget by May 31. After that, new rules mean the Democrat-controlled Legislature will need Republican votes to pass a budget. The state's new fiscal year starts July 1.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the largest state workers union, said lawmakers need to do something.
"Obviously we prefer borrowing to no payments being made," said Roberta Lynch, deputy director of AFSCME Council 31.
She said lawmakers still must fix the larger problem of too little revenue. The union, she said, backs tax reform that includes raising the income tax, expanding the sales tax base and limiting property taxes.