Quinn Vows to Veto "Half-Baked" Ill. Budget

Fiscal year ends Tuesday at midnight

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    Getty Images / Scott Olson
    Gov. Pat Quinn said he is prepared to stay in Springfield all summer to get results.

    Gov. Pat Quinn promised a veto if legislators approve an incomplete budget as a midnight deadline looms, telling legislators to make tough budget choices -- "not bad choices."

    In a hastily arranged Tuesday speech to a joint session of the Illinois House and Senate, Quinn urged lawmakers to put aside their political concerns and do whatever is necessary to produce a sound budget.

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    "If this General Assembly sends me a partial budget that decimates the social safety net of our state, I will veto that budget," he said, adding that he's prepared to stay in Springfield all summer to get results.

    Quinn renewed his call for an income tax increase to help fill the financial hole, which started at roughly $11.6 billion and the governor now says has been whittled down to $9.2 billion.

    Legislators have balked at raising taxes amid a recession, and there was no indication his 10-minute address changed the situation. Lawmakers sat stone-faced as he spoke and offered only polite applause afterward.

    Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, blamed the governor and Democratic legislative leaders for the budget impasse.

    "We are totally stuck," Radogno said. "The governor continues to say the same thing. The speaker and the president continue to respond in the same manner as well. We're not getting anywhere."

    July 1 marks the start of a new budget year, but officials haven't agreed on a spending plan. They're split over whether to raise taxes and how deeply to slash spending. The lack of a new budget won't immediately shut down government, but it creates problems for local agencies that depend on state funds and in about two weeks would halt paychecks for government employees.

    Lawmakers have approved a version of the budget that falls billions of dollars short of covering government costs, leaving it to Quinn to decide where to make cuts.

    Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said Quinn should sign that budget and keep government running while negotiations continue. He said the key is to persuade Republicans to support higher taxes as part of a budget solution.

    "The Republicans clearly need some more time to come around to vote for the tax increase," Cullerton said. "We need their vote, can't do it without it, and as a result, he should give them the time that they need."

    Even without a budget in place, government would continue to function normally, for a while.

    Protestors Removed from Capitol Building

    Earlier Tuesday, eight health care workers blocking access to the Illinois House have been removed by Capitol police officers.

    The home- and child-care workers are represented by the health care division of the Service Employees International Union. They sat down Tuesday at the House chamber's front door to convince lawmakers to vote for an income tax increase to end the budget crisis.

    The protesters left willingly when approached by police officers, who escorted them to a basement room of the Capitol. Henry Haupt is spokesman for the secretary of state. He says the group was detained but has been released without charge.

    SEIU Healthcare president Keith Kelleher says lawmakers need to prevent service cuts to seniors, child care and nursing homes.