(Springfield, IL) — March 4, 2010. The latest proposal from Democratic state senators to fix the budget looks a lot like an idea from the presumptive GOP gubernatorial candidate, State Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington).
In a committee on Wednesday, state senators discussed a proposed 10 percent cut to some of the state’s most expensive programs, including education, healthcare and human services.
Brady, who was not at the committee, had previously suggested an across-the-board 10 percent cut to all state services in order to reduce the state’s budget shortfall of more than $12 billion.
“We have to have a serious discussion about how we’re going to deconstruct and reconstruct Illinois’ budget in a way that we can balance it, we can live up to our obligations,” he said. “And I’m more than willing to engage in that debate.”
Top administrators from two of the state’s public universities testified before the committee, saying large cuts would devastate higher education.
Southern Illinois University President Glenn Poshard said massive cuts would worsen a tenuous fiscal situation affecting state universities.
“We’re doing everything that we can do to improve our cash flow,” he said. “But ultimately, if the state does not meet its obligation, the only place we have to go other than tightening our belts is tuition raises.”
University of Illinois President Stanley Ikenberry said his university system is already struggling because of late payments from the state.
“Right now the University of Illinois is owed $487 million. That’s a huge amount of money. My nightmare is that another six months from now that number could be $700 million,” he said.
Both university presidents outlined their support for a tax increase in order to bring in new revenue.
But Brady, who stands in strong opposition to a tax increase, defended his approach to the budget.
“I’m a candidate for governor, I’m going to be the next governor of the state of Illinois. I welcome their test and their challenge. I’m going to rise above it, provide the people of Illinois with a budget they can count on, provide the tax cuts they need to create business investment in our state and rebuild our economy.”
Brady is the presumptive GOP candidate from the tight Feb. 2 primary and is awaiting final election numbers that he believes will declare him the winner over state Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale. The Republican candidate will face Governor Pat Quinn in November’s general election.
Quinn pushed for a tax increase last year and has said he would support an increase for the upcoming budget.
State Senator John Sullivan (D-Rushville) dismissed the notion that the 10-percent proposed cut was a Democratic scare tactic.
“The facts of these cuts are people losing their jobs, services being cut, unemployment rising in the state of Illinois. Trying to get the economy growing again, delaying that process as well.”
–Kevin Lee, Illinois Statehouse News