Illinois' four top Republican leaders in Springfield came out strong at Thursday's Republican Day at the State Fair against Democratic Governor Pat Quinn's plan to address the state's budgetary crisis by borrowing cash to help pay down its debt and address its ever-growing pile of overdue bills.
"What’s significant today is we have the Republican leader of the House, Republican leader of the Senate, the comptroller and the treasurer standing here before the people of Illinois to say we don’t believe, we don’t support any further debt in the state of Illinois," said the state's treasurer Dan Rutherford, as reported by the Chicago Sun-Times.
"The body politic is starting to understand it. I know the public is starting to understand it. I just wish Pat Quinn would," Rutherford added, while flanked by Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont).
Topinka also had harsh words to describe the state's finances, telling the State Journal-Register that her office has some 190,000 bills totally nearly $4 billion awaiting payment on its to-do list.
And while some of those overdue bills date back to April, she told the Journal-Register she was "just thrilled to death that we are paying bills from 2011, that we finally got out of 2010," as she admitted that the state's income tax increase had made for what she described as slight progress on the matter at hand: the state's bond and pension debt they estimate at $119 billion.
"Only in Illinois would government pass a 67 percent tax increase on people and businesses—in a fragile economy, nonetheless—and still talk about borrowing billions more to pay down bills," Topinka said, as reported by the Decatur Times. "Our unified focus must be spending, and where we can save dollars - period."
The Republican leaders would like to see more cuts to the state budget on top of the $2 billion the General Assembly cut from Quinn's originally introduced $35.4 billion budget, including changes to the state's pension and Medicaid systems, as Illinois Statehouse News reports.
Meanwhile, Quinn's office criticized the GOP stance on solving the state's budget quandry, as the Sun-Times reports:
"The question we never hear asked, and I’d love for someone to ask them is, who shouldn’t get paid the money they’re owed?" Quinn spokeswoman Brie Callahan said. "Who should get paid last? That’s what we’re up against. The schools? Metra? Social services? They’re all desperate for money. We’re looking at a budget that’s been cut to the bone."
As Leader Radogno once put it, "Dolla dolla bill, y'all."