07/31/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Quinn Vows To Veto 'Half Baked' Budget That Cuts Services, Doesn't Raise Taxes


Gov. Quinn's office has announced he will "take veto action." A press conference is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. in Springfield.

Check back for details.


Associated Press Writer

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- The sputtering drive to come up with a state budget broke down completely Tuesday, leaving Illinois to begin a new fiscal year without any plan for paying its employees or delivering government services.

Government won't shut down without a budget in place, but the situation creates uncertainty for anyone who depends on state money: government workers, road crews, community agencies caring for the sick and needy, and more.

Gov. Pat Quinn lectured legislators Tuesday afternoon in an unusual speech to a joint session of the House and Senate. He urged legislators to act like adults and raise taxes, rather than slash key services, to help close the biggest budget deficit in Illinois history.

"If this General Assembly sends me a partial budget that decimates the social safety net of our state, I will veto that budget," Quinn said in a hastily arranged speech lasting 10 minutes.

Lawmakers responded coolly.

Democrats accused the Democratic governor of rejecting reasonable compromises meant to keep budget talks going. Republicans complained of divisions within the Democratic majority. Rank-and-file lawmakers took offense at the governor's tone.

"He was being Patrick Quinn - Patrick Quinn the great crusader," said Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago. "We were just hoping he would demonstrate a little more leadership."

The Legislature adjourned Tuesday night without any firm plans to return or even for the governor and legislative leaders to resume negotiations.

Underscoring what's at stake, a federal judge ruled that a version of the state budget approved by lawmakers might interfere with court-ordered services delivered by the Department of Children and Family Services. U.S. District Judge John F. Grady ordered the agency to keep providing such services as psychiatric treatment and day care, no matter what budget eventually becomes law.

And at the state Capitol, eight people briefly blocked access to the House chamber in a call for lawmakers to raise taxes. The members of the Service Employees International Union work for local agencies that the state pays to provide care to children and the elderly, two programs facing the possibility of major budget cuts.

The protesters left willingly when approached by police officers, who escorted them to a basement room of the Capitol. They were released without charges.

State government's old budget expired Tuesday at midnight. Officials have been unable to agree on how to fill a deficit estimated at $11.6 billion. The cause of the massive gap is a combination of rising costs, plummeting tax revenue and increased spending by state officials in recent years.

Federal funds and cost-cutting have reduced the deficit to $9.2 billion, Quinn says, and he has agreed to an additional $1 billion in budget cuts - including cutting 1,000 jobs at the Corrections Department and 1,600 jobs elsewhere in state government.

But there's no agreement on what more to do.

The situation was so topsy-turvy that Quinn praised lawmakers in his speech for working on a borrowing plan to come up with $2.3 billion, then turned around a few hours later and helped block the plan, according to senators. His goal may have been to make it harder for lawmakers to argue they had reduced the deficit to a manageable level.

"It's a strategy that can only leave you scratching your head," said Sen. Jeffrey Schoenberg, D-Evanston.

The governor wants to raise personal income taxes to 4.5 percent, up from 3 percent, to generate more than $4 billion. He says that's the fairest way to balance the budget without gutting services.

Republican lawmakers, along with some Democrats, oppose raising taxes. They are demanding long-term changes in government health and retirement programs before even discussing taxes.

Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, urged Quinn to sign the budget that lawmakers have approved, even though it falls billions of dollars short of covering a full year of government expenses. Cullerton argues that would give Quinn the ability to keep government running at normal levels while officials continue budget talks.

"The Republicans clearly need some more time to come around to vote for the tax increase," Cullerton said.

Quinn rejected that idea, calling it the kind of budgeting that got Illinois into such a crisis.

"We must not put off decisions until later in the summer or the fall or next winter. That's not what adults do," he said.

House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, said legislators have approved a budget that balances spending against the limited amount of money available. Now Quinn has "total discretion" over how to make do with that money, he said, refusing to comment on whether lawmakers failed to do their jobs by giving those decisions to Quinn.

More money isn't likely to be found, Madigan added, until people see the impact of budget cuts on important services and press lawmakers to raise taxes.

Even if talks continued for a month or two, it's not clear what they would produce.

Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, said she's seeing no progress. She blamed the governor and Democratic legislative leaders.

"We are totally stuck," Radogno said. "The governor continues to say the same thing. The speaker and the president continue to respond in the same manner as well. We're not getting anywhere."


Associated Press Writer John O'Connor contributed to this report.

* * * *
Gov. Pat Quinn said Tuesday that if lawmakers send him a temporary budget that does not include an income tax increase, he would consider keeping the legislature in Springfield for a "double overtime" session.

Illinois' current budget expires at midnight. Lawmakers have floated the idea of a six month budget that would avoid voting on the controversial income tax increase backed by Quinn. On Tuesday Quinn said he would reject a "half-baked budget" from the legislature, the Tribune reports:

Quinn says an income tax increase is needed to fill what he estimates is a $9.2 billion hole---a gap lawmakers say is about $7 billion. The new governor has threatened massive layoffs and cuts to social services if no solution is found, but also has backed away from both threats.

"I'm not going to let the legislature send me a half-baked budget that does not include funding for those important services. If they do, we'll have to send it back and we'll have to go into double overtime. [...] If they throw that my way tonight, they will see it thrown right back at 'em," Quinn said. "For those who might be advocating things in the budget that are unfair, are not humane, or indecent, I'm not going down that road."

Quinn did not say, however, that he would automatically veto a temporary budget.

"I'm willing to listen to anybody with a reasonable plan," Quinn told reporters upon arriving in Springfield Tuesday.

Senate President John Cullerton, who supports a tax increase, said it is unlikely the legislature will vote on one this week.

Quinn elaborated on his morning remarks once in Springfield. Watch video from Capitol Fax: