Mt. Vernon Register-News

State News

June 22, 2009

Quinn, lawmakers heading to Springfield

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said he won’t be picky when lawmakers return to Springfield on Tuesday to try to straighten out the state’s budget mess as long as they pass an income tax increase to avoid deep cuts in social services.

“I support anything that’ll balance the budget,” Quinn told reporters Monday after rallying with hundreds of supporters in a Chicago park to keep the heat on lawmakers who have so far been reluctant to pass a tax increase.

The Democratic governor summoned lawmakers back to work in a special session to come up with a new state budget, which he hopes includes more revenue from an income tax increase for the new fiscal year that starts July 1. Without it, Quinn says, the budget lawmakers passed before adjourning their spring session will force $9.2 billion in cuts — reducing or eliminating services for the poor, the elderly and the disabled.

But lawmakers, both Republican and Democratic, said Monday there were no signs an income tax increase would pass.

“Our expectations are very low,” said Rikeesha Phelon, a spokeswoman for Democratic Senate President John Cullerton.

House Republican leader Tom Cross will meet with his members when the session begins Tuesday, but little has changed since the GOP refused to back an income tax increase before adjourning June 1, said his spokeswoman, Sara Wojcicki.

Republicans have said they want to see more government spending reforms and efficiencies before they’ll even consider a tax increase. They accuse the Quinn administration of using scare tactics to pressure lawmakers to pass one.

The GOP has more bargaining power this time around because a tax increase and any new budget must now pass in the Democrat-controlled Legislature with a super majority — 71 votes in the House and 37 in the Senate — which requires their support.

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