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Dismal Budget Outlook for Illinois

Nick Gale, IRN
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Springfield, IL
Election Returns

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (IRN) - A dismal budget outlook has some lawmakers rethinking how the state operates.   Earlier this week the governor released a budget outlook that shows most state operations should expect a 9 percent reduction. Trimming there would help the state pay pension and Medicaid costs, which have been on the rise.

House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) says everything should be considered when it comes to cuts. “We don’t have a choice as a state. We don’t have the luxury of saying we’re gonna spend more money somewhere because we want to help somebody,” Cross said. “We are at a point in this state, in order to literally survive financially and get our heads above water, where we’re going to have to reform in certain areas but also cut the budget.”

Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) says further reforms must be made to the pension system and Medicaid to keep the state above water. “I think we need structural reform,” Radogno said. “Republicans have been talking about that for some time now. We need pension reform. I think just about everyone has acknowledged that something needs to be done, yet the Democrats have not called those bills for consideration.”

State Sen. Susan Garrett (D-Lake Forest) believes the state should look at the tax structure to help maximize what the state brings in. “I would like to see sort of some discussion on whether or not Illinois should move from a flat tax to a more progressive tax,” Garrett said. She believes the state should hold some hearings on the matter in preparation of a temporary income tax increase expiring in 2014. “If the tax increase is going to be sun-setted, this may be one way to do it. I know it’s an amendment to the Constitution but I think there are ways to really look at that and see if it’s possible.”

The governor is still pushing legislators to go along with a $7 billion borrowing plan that he touts as a “restructuring” of debt. The governor’s budget address is next month; he will outline a more detailed plan of what must go in order balance the budget.

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