04/12/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Quinn Hopes To Shield Education, Health Insurance From Budget Ax

ROSEMONT, Ill. - Gov. Pat Quinn is giving few specifics about his upcoming budget address, but he strongly suggests he's on the side of teachers.

Quinn received a warm ovation Thursday at the Illinois Education Association's meeting in Rosemont.

The governor is preparing to present a budget plan next week in which he needs to talk about fixing a deficit of at least $9 billion.

He didn't provide dollar figures to the teachers union. But he told them education is his top priority.

Quinn says he wants to reduce public schools' reliance on property taxes. And he'll do what he can to protect their pensions and rebuild schools.

Union president Ken Swanson raised a cheer from the crowd after Quinn spoke when he noted the refreshing difference "a real governor" makes.

Quinn's remarks follow his statement Tuesday that education and state health insurance programs are two areas he does not want to cut as he attempts to close the state's massive budget deficit, Lee's Kurt Erickson and Mike Riopell report.

The governor also said that changing the tax code to allow families to take higher exemptions would help ease the pain of a likely income tax increase, according to Erickson and Riopell:

He did say the Illinois tax code is unfair, and raising the amount people can deduct from their taxes would be a place to start reforming it.

The state allows a $2,000 deduction for each taxpayer and any dependents.