Gov. Quinn`s budget includes deep education cuts

Gov. Quinn`s budget includes deep education cuts

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Gov. Pat Quinn prepared Tuesday to deliver a proposed state budget that calls for deep spending cuts, including slashing $400 million in education, with the undertone of his planned address before lawmakers being how their inaction in solving the state's pension crisis is straining spending across-the-board.

At a Tuesday night pre-budget speech briefing with legislators, Quinn's staff said "discretionary spending" by the state of Illinois would be smaller than 2008 -- $16.17 billion compared to $17.48 billion.

The Chicago Democrat and his aides are straining to find good news to deliver, noting that increased revenues will translate into an effort to pay down $2 billion in unpaid bills and a tentative contract agreement between the state and its largest employee union will save the state $900 million in health care costs.

Quinn will outline his budget priorities for the fiscal year that begins July 1 in a noon speech Wednesday. Quinn frequently has said the very first thing he and legislators must take on is the $96.7 billion deficit in the state's five pension systems. New budget projections Tuesday showed that trying to catch up with that hole will cost Illinois nearly $7 billion -- or 19 percent of the state's general revenue fund. In 2008, cost of government employee pensions was just 6 percent of the state budget.

That scandalous pile of unpaid bills was $8.7 billion last June 30th and was supposed to shrink to $7.5 billion by this coming June 30th and to $6.7 billion by June 30th, 2014.

In education,  the pension obligation jumped from $4.1 billion in last year's budget to $5 billion, leaving $400 million less for education.

"We have a series of reductions that the governor does not want to do," Quinn's budget chief, Jerry Stermer told reporters at a budget briefing late Tuesday. "These are outside his vision of where we ought to be. These reductions are a direction result of no action on pensions."

There is not a hint that Governor Quinn is doing anything to prepare for scheduled expiration of the 67 percent income tax increase at midnight December 31st, 2014.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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