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Quinn’s Plan for Illinois Borrowing Draws Harsh Criticism

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (IRN/AP) - News that Gov. Pat Quinn is considering withholding money the state gives to local governments unless he gets more borrowing power is not going over well.

“I find the entire proposal somewhat disappointing,” says State Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont), calling the administration “tone-deaf.” She says all four of the legislature’s caucuses favor looking for ways to cut expenses, not to borrow and spend more.

The governor has characterized his borrowing plan as refinancing, saying the state already owed the money to vendors; he wants to borrow cash at a more favorable interest rate to get them paid.

Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing, a former state representative, said she understand the state’s financial challenges, but “they can’t deal with it by shifting the burden to local governments.”

“We have our own responsibilities and we have been diligent about living up to what we’re supposed to do,” said Prussing, adding that Urbana’s estimated $2.9 million loss is crucial and would be used for public safety expenses.

Equally frustrated is Joe McCoy, a lobbyist for the Illinois Municipal League: “We are going to be without approximately $2.7 billion from Fiscal Year 2011 through Fiscal Year 2015, simply because the state decided they wanted to keep 100 percent of the additional revenues generated from the income tax increase,” he said.

Illinois Municipal League deputy executive director Roger Huebner predicted calls will go to Quinn’s office with complaints, not to local legislators with lobbying efforts.

“It’s an interesting tactic in the sense of saying that if the state is in the financial crisis it is, that the way to resolve that financial crisis is to create 1,300 other ones,” said Huebner, referring to the number of city governments.

The state distributes 6 percent of the income tax revenue to municipalities, down from 10 percent before the January increase in the income tax. It’s the same dollar amount, but a smaller percentage of the bigger pie. Illinoisans pay 5 percent of their income to the state, as opposed to the previous 3 percent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright Illinois Radio Network

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