Mt. Vernon Register-News

State News

June 15, 2009

Quinn: Proposed budget means cutting $9.2 billion

SPRINGFIELD (AP) — Gov. Pat Quinn’s office said Monday that it would have to slash spending by $9.2 billion under a budget proposed by Illinois lawmakers, warning that most cuts would fall on state-funded groups that provide local services.

Nearly 200,000 senior citizens getting help with the cost of medicine would have to be cut loose, and organizations that watch over children in foster care would see their caseloads triple, said Quinn’s chief of staff, Jerome Stermer.

He estimated that 100,000 people who provide such services would lose their jobs, and thousands more would be laid off from positions within state government .

“We would be looking at thousands of layoffs” within state government, Stermer said. He claimed state parks, prisons and other facilities could close under the budget proposal.

Stermer’s comments marked the administration’s most detailed analysis since lawmakers passed a patchwork budget late last month after failing to agree on new sources of revenue. Quinn and legislative leaders are searching for alternative plan, but so far they’ve come up empty.

Quinn said lawmakers will soon be coming back to Springfield to address the problem, although he stopped short of threatening to call a special session to force them to return.

“I think we’re going to make it clear to the leaders that you don’t go home on summer vacation until you get all your homework, all your tests, all your term papers done,” the Democrat said.

Illinois government faces its worst budget deficit in history — at least $11.6 billion.

Quinn proposed closing that gap with a combination of spending cuts, budget maneuvers and tax increases. Lawmakers wouldn’t agree to most of his ideas and instead passed a budget that didn’t include enough money to cover costs, leaving it to him to decide where to cut spending.

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