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Illinois Tries to Bail Itself Out

Alex Degman, Illinois Capitol Bureau
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (IRN) -Illinois’ Republican treasurer was encouraged by the tone taken in the governor’s budget address. Dan Rutherford was among a handful of Republicans that took a positive approach to the governor’s speech, which lasted less than a half hour. Rutherford believes the governor wants to work on the state’s biggest financial problems.

“I’m impressed with Gov. Quinn’s apparent tenacity on really tacking the public pension issue,” he said. “I heard things there that I’ve not heard said before.”

The governor has tasked a legislative work group with solving the unfunded pension liability problem, while many lawmakers wish they’d heard specific proposals from the governor.

Illinois’ comptroller, on the other hand, wonders how the governor came up with his idea to cut agency and constitutional office budgets by 9 percent as a way to save money. Judy Baar Topinka says the Republican running for governor in 2010 mentioned 10 percent across the board cuts, which the current governor deemed inhumane.

Now, the governor is asking everyone to cut 9 percent from their budgets. “I don’t like across-the-board cuts because I think you throw out the good with the bad,” she says.

“I think you really need to look at more incisively what you have to get rid of and what you have to keep, but there’s plenty to get rid of.” Topinka says she’s encouraged the governor has his mind-set on tackling rising state worker pension and Medicaid costs, but says everyone at the Capitol has to work together to come up with a solution. She hopes it will happen, but cautions it’s 2012 – and it’s an election year.

Copyright IRN

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