CHICAGO – Gov. Pat Quinn said the nearly $36 billion budget state lawmakers sent him still needs work and vowed Tuesday to comb through it before signing off.
The spending plan doesn’t include an extension of the state’s 2011 temporary income tax increase, which Quinn had said was necessary to avoid massive cuts to education and other areas. When the tax rolls back in January, it’ll create roughly a $1.8 billion revenue hole. Legislators, who rejected an election-year tax extension, have said they’ll return after the November election to address the revenue question.
The move creates a sticky situation for Quinn.
The Chicago Democrat is seeking a second full term against Republican businessman Bruce Rauner, who has repeatedly called Quinn an ineffective leader and blasted the budget as “phony.” At the same time, a bond rating agency – Moody’s Investors Service – said Tuesday that Illinois’ financial rating could suffer if lawmakers don’t extend the tax increase, reversing much of the financial progress in the state that already has the worst credit rating nationwide.
Quinn, who has called the budget “incomplete,” defended his intentions Tuesday in his first comments to reporters on the budget since lawmakers approved it early Saturday. He said he proposed an honest and detailed budget in March that addressed the state’s serious financial issues, while his opponent hasn’t yet presented a spending plan.
“The other person is too timid, too fearful to lay out a plan for the people of Illinois,” Quinn told reporters at an elementary school on Chicago’s South Side.
Rauner, a venture capitalist from Winnetka, has said his proposed budget is coming soon.
“Once again, the people of Illinois can’t trust Pat Quinn and he again shows that his top priority is raising taxes on the working people of Illinois,” Rauner’s campaign said Tuesday in a statement.
Lawmakers also adjourned without other key priorities Quinn laid out earlier this year, including a $500 property tax refund for homeowners and a filing fee reduction for businesses.
Quinn said voters would still recognize him as someone who laid out an honest plan for the state and that he wasn’t done tackling his priorities, including a budget that addresses adequate education spending.
“This is not done yet. It’s not complete yet. We have work to do yet on the budget,” he said. “I intend to work with the General Assembly through the entire fiscal year to straighten out things that need repair.”