Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Gov. Quinn Redeemed by Dire Moody's Warning for Illinois' Fiscal Future

The Democratic governor says 'I told you so' while knocking rival Bruce Rauner as "timid" and "fearful"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Gov. Pat Quinn does not mince words when bashing rival Bruce Rauner for his radio silence on a state budget plan.

    Democrat Quinn attacked the GOP nominee for Illinois governor as "too timid" and "too fearful" to outline his proposals during an appearance on Tuesday at the Jane Addams Elementary School on Chicago's South Side.

    "I think the people of Illinois are with me when it comes to fighting hard for our kids in school, their parents and their teachers," he told the crowd. "I'm the only person doing that. The other person is too timid, too fearful to lay out a plan to the people of Illinois."

    That morning, Moody's revealed its assessment of Illinois lawmakers' fiscal 2015 budget, which rejected Quinn's proposal to extend the temporary state income tax hike past its January expiration date. The ratings agency warned that the new budget -- which must go into effect in July -- could drive the state to depend upon "credit-negative practices" and lead to even more borrowing.

    The agency, which ranks borrowers' creditworthiness, previously issued Illinois the lowest credit rating of all 50 cities, citing the state's expensive pension bills. It predicted Tuesday that when the income tax drops from 5 percent to 3.75 percent on Jan. 1, the loss of $1.8 billion in revenue could hinder the progress Illinois has made toward economic recovery.

    "Today's words of warning from Moody's are not a surprise," said Team Quinn in a statement. "We provided members of the General Assembly with the earlier warnings from Moody's and the other credit rating agencies that recommended they pass a budget that would fund education and continue our progress in paying down old bills. Moody's and the other rating agencies clearly said they would take a dim view of a budget that reverses the 'significant progress of recent years.'"

    "The Legislature chose to pass an incomplete budget," the statement continued. "We will work to minimize the impact of cuts in vital services and continue to cut waste and maintain our hard-won fiscal gains."

    Quinn no doubt reveled in the satisfaction of Moody's dire prognosis after taking bipartisan flak for his tax-extension pitch and also an onslaught of criticism from campaign Rauner. The Winnetka-based venture capitalist has slimed Quinn on the issue even though he himself has refused to offer an outline for the state's fiscal future as well as an idea of where he stands on same-sex marriage and education financing. (Rauner, for his part, has said he would let the 5 percent tax expire and compensate for the revenue hole with yet-to-be-specified cuts.)

    In a statement Tuesday, via the Tribune, Rauner's spokesman said: "A strong bipartisan majority in the legislature rejected Pat Quinn’s tax hike because they know it will hurt working families. Quinn spent five years preserving a broken system and the result is another phony budget."

    Meanwhile, Quinn -- in a case of the pot calling the kettle black -- remains mum on whether he'll sign Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's proposal to raise city property taxes by $250 million to shore up a pair of pension funds. Quinn, who has publicly criticized the deal, has until Monday to say "yay" or "nay" amid heavy pressure from Emanuel.