Quinn: “We Have Cut From Here to Kingdom Come”

Budget cuts include 1,100 Dept. of Corrections jobs

Gov. Pat Quinn used his new authority over the state budget on Friday to reduce spending cuts for programs that help abused children and other vulnerable Illinois residents while offering bad news for prison guards, college students and more.

"This is the first time this has ever been done in Illinois," Quinn said.  "It's not an easy task, but it is something that has to be done and that's what I've done."

Overall, there will be $600 million less for Medicaid and  $600 million less for state employees' health coverage.  College students will lose $225 million in available scholarship funds.

The Department of Corrections will see the largest impact, in terms of employees, with roughly 1,100 laid off.

And while state employees will be taking 12 furlough days, Quinn also wants unions to agree to a pay freeze.

All of the moves are because of a major hole in the state budget, present even after the slashes, which leaves unmet needs in important services.  Quinn argues that the fairest way to change that is to raise the income tax.

"We have cut. We have cut from here to kingdom come," Quinn said at a news conference. "We've done all this, but we have to deal with the fiscal reality that we have a revenue shortfall to pay our bills."

Lawmakers gave Quinn the job of deciding where to cut about $1 billion in spending and how to divvy up $3.4 billion in lump sums. Quinn offered his first explanation Friday of what he intends to do.

Much of the money available will be used to pay local organizations that provide child care, drug counseling and similar services on behalf of the state. They still face a reduction in state support but not the deep cuts that were once proposed.

Quinn also put money into the state's child-welfare agency and the State Board of Education, reversing some of the school cuts that were announced last week.


Copyright AP - Associated Press
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