In his gathering attempt to address the Illinois budget crisis, Gov. Pat Quinn has proposed roughly $2 billion in cuts, including nearly $1 billion in cuts to public school funding.
School districts are already suffering the consequences of late payments from the state, forcing schools across Illinois to shutter programs and fire teachers. The budget cuts will only worsen a situation that can only be described as dire for many districts. And an additional $400 million is being cut from the budgets of public universities.
"These are not just efficiency cuts," state budget director David Vaught told the Sun-Times. "They affect real services to real people in communities across the state."
And yet, despite these drastic cuts, the state is still projected to be facing a roughly $11.5 billion deficit in the coming fiscal year starting in July.
For that reason, Quinn continues to push for an income tax increase that would raise several billion additional dollars in revenue. Quinn advocated for the tax hike last year, but the measure failed in the House.
Quinn is hoping that the increasingly bleak economic picture will muster the necessary political will to raise taxes this time around.
"Frankly, I think last year there was an air of unreality on (the) part of some of the legislature who didn't realize how dire the circumstances were," Quinn told the Chicago Tribune.
His likely opponent in November, State Senator Bill Brady, had harsh words for the proposed tax increases.
"The governor is out in left field here. I mean, he's completely out of line. People are struggling in Illinois," Brady said, adding that "this is absolutely the wrong time to increase the tax rate."
But without increased revenues, it's hard to imagine that even the steepest cuts will close the yawning chasm in the Illinois budget. And without a solution, the nonpartisan Civic Federation said Tuesday, the current budget crisis will mean "Doomsday" for the state of Illinois.