Illinois lawmakers agreed Wednesday to go back to Springfield next week to try to fix the state's budget mess, but whether anything is accomplished remains to be seen with Gov. Pat Quinn and top lawmakers split over how to proceed.
The stakes are high. The Quinn administration says that without a new budget with more money from an income tax increase it will be forced to slash $9.2 billion in spending July 1, decimating many human services programs.
"In a recession, if you look at history, it's very, very important that government be available for citizens, who no fault of their own, have lost their job or had their hours reduced, their incomes are going backwards. We have to be there with the fundamental services that everyone believes in in America, and especially here in Illinois," Quinn said.
Senate President John Cullerton called it "unfortunate" that Republicans won't support a tax increase even though the current budget expires in less than two weeks.
Republicans say they want more action on long-term changes in state spending before they'll consider raising taxes.
"We're talking about the wrong things," Sen. Christine Rodogno said after Wednesday's meeting. "The Democrats are talking about tax increase, tax increase, tax increase. We continue to say that what we need to be talking about right now is addressing the spending side of the equation, we need to be talking about reforms that can have state government be more efficient, and we need to get our economy moving so that we get people back to work."
The Republican intransigence could make for another standoff when lawmakers are back in Springfield Tuesday because an income tax increase can't pass without some GOP support in the House.