Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn proposed his state budget in March, to much public skepticism. And two months later, critics are no happier.
The Civic Federation, a Chicago-based budget watchdog, denounced the Quinn budget as "irresponsible" Monday, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Laurence Msall, the Civic Federation's president, told the Sun-Times that the budget, which includes nearly $6 billion of new borrowing, is "just not fiscally sustainable, and it doesn't make the situation better."
One major part of the Quinn budget is an increase of the state income tax from 3 percent to 4 percent, which would generate around $1.8 billion in new revenues for the state. That tax increase, coupled with nearly $3 billion in budget cuts as well as the new borrowing, would leave the state in only a $2.9 billion deficit next year, down from $13 billion this year.
But with the legislative recess nominally coming in early May, the prospects for resolving the thorniest budget issues are slim. In particular, the tax increase has gained little traction in the state legislature thus far, and in what is expected to be a hotly contested election year, it seems unlikely that many legislators will support such a move.
The Sun-Times has an idea where that leaves us:
The lack of movement on a tax increase has fueled the belief that Democratic legislative leaders will pass a partially funded state budget, leave Springfield in early May and leave a decision on increasing revenues until after the fall elections.
"It would be the height of irresponsibility not to pass a full-year budget," Msall said. "How can school districts, universities and everyone else put together a budget based on not knowing what the state's full-year funding is going to be? There's nothing expected on the horizon in the next six months from an economic or fiscal forecast that'll make it any easier for the Legislature to balance this budget."
Still, despite objections from Msall and others, there are few other realistic scenarios. House Speaker Michael Madigan praised Quinn's "courage" when the governor announced the tax hike, but also said at the time, "The people of America don't want a tax increase."
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady has come out strongly against the proposed tax increase, instead suggesting that the state can "deconstruct and reconstruct" its budget to close the massive deficit. Brady has released no detailed budget proposal.
For the Civic Federation's part, it has suggested a larger tax increase than Quinn's -- to 5 percent, instead of 4 percent -- coupled with other new taxes and stiff spending cuts to eliminate the deficit, according to theSun-Times.