Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn delivers the State of the Budget Address to a join session of the General Assembly in the House chambers Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012 in Springfield, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
Gov. Pat Quinn says it's time for Illinois lawmakers to "step forward" and rescue the state Medicaid system, even if requires some painful decisions.
The Democratic governor wants lawmakers to approve his plan for filling a $2.7 billion hole in the system. It includes reducing services for the poor, cutting payments to health-care providers and raising cigarette taxes by $1 a pack.
Republicans say they're flatly opposed to the tax increase. But Quinn noted cigarette taxes were raised several times under past Republican governors.
In a news conference Thursday, Quinn said if lawmakers don't act, the Medicaid program will eat up money needed for other services and then collapse. About 2.7 million people in Illinois use Medicaid.
The Associated Press