A Possible Six-Month Budget From Gov. Quinn?
More than a month after he was supposed to outline his financial agenda for the state, Governor Pat Quinn will deliver his budget address this week. He has promised to give a long-term plan as well. But some legislators fear Illinois will go the opposite route and adopt a partial-year budget.
During his budget speech Wednesday, Gov. Quinn will presumably answer the question he has avoided answering for months: what should Illinois do about the temporary income tax increase, set to rollback in January? That's midway through the next fiscal year.
The situation has prompted rumblings that instead of passing a full-year's budget, lawmakers will only pass one that's good for six-months.
Hence this theory, described by Rep. Ed Sullivan, a Republican from Mundelein:
"And so by doing a six-month budget you push all the hard decisions on whether to vote to retain the tax increase, or vote to make some pretty heavy cuts to make up for the shortfall ... you push it beyond the election and it's much easier then to have that decision ... potentially with people that are leaving the General Assembly," he said. "And then, quite frankly, it could be a Republican governor. And if you're in the majority party why not put the whole onus on the Republican governor?"
Sullivan says it's a cop-out, and going that route would be irresponsible.
Effectively, shoving off the tax question until after the November election, when Quinn's expected to have a tight race against Republican Bruce Rauner. Lots of General Assembly members are also running for re-election.
But Rep. Carol Sente, a Democrat from Vernon Hills, says that would leave groups that depend on state funding unable to do their own financial planning.
"Businesses, providers, you know, education, everyone does their budget get based on a year; they need to know what we're thinking first," she said.
If the tax hike expires, lawmakers would have to cut about $2 billion to make up for that lost revenue.