SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois State Senator Bill Brady today said Governor Quinn’s budget proposal is a reaction to the fiscal reality facing Illinois but questioned whether new spending would still outstrip revenues and drive the state into even deeper deficits.
“We can no longer bury our heads in the sand, hoping that things will get better, and Governor Quinn today at least peeked out of that hole,” Brady said. “It amazes me it's taken him this long to reach the conclusion and the reality of the condition we're in. But his budget proposal today still calls for higher spending and does nothing to give Illinois families and businesses any confidence that last year’s tax increase will expire as scheduled.”
Brady said that it absolutely critical for our citizens and the businesses that employ them that Illinois get its financial books in order, pointing out Illinois already has the largest unfunded pension liability in the country, the worst credit rating of the 50 states, double-digit unemployment that consistently exceeds the national average, and a growing list of unpaid bills to vendors that now totals $8.5 billion, despite the Democrats’ passage of a 67 percent income tax increase last year.
“It appears that the Governor may be taking the first step toward curbing the Democrats’ addiction to a long-held policy of taxing, spending and borrowing,” Brady said. “It’s early, and he now must show steady discipline in following through to actually reduce spending as he has proposed, push the reforms he has suggested along with others we in the legislature will propose, and make sure the reforms are implemented.”
The Quinn administration expects additional revenues in the next fiscal year to total about $700 million, while obligations for public pension funding alone will increase by more than $1 billion.
“We all must share in the sacrifices required today,” said Brady, noting the Governor’s proposals to reform the Medicaid and pension systems, shutter some state facilities and reduce agency spending by 9 percent.
“But no one group – not our most vulnerable, not our medical providers, not dedicated state employees, not our public safety system, and certainly not future generations -- should be singled out to pay the price of the Democrats mismanaging state revenues and overspending over the last few years,” he added. “What Illinois needs is systemic change and a systematic prioritization of state spending, as I have consistently suggested.”
Brady also questioned the wisdom of closing state correctional facilities when overcrowding already forces some inmates to sleep in gymnasiums.
“I’m also concerned about the effect of those closings on the economies of local communities throughout Illinois and employees who will either face unemployment or be forced to drive even longer distances to their jobs. If he is using the threat of facility closings as a bargaining chip for concessions from union leaders, he is using state employees as pawns in a game not of their making or their fault," Brady said.