In an interview with The Associated Press, Quinn's budget director,
David Vaught, said Wednesday that the new budget hole increases the
pressure for officials to raise taxes early next year. Until then,
he said, Quinn will cut spending further and seek legislative
permission to borrow money set aside in special government funds.
This year's budget was put together with the assumption that income
tax revenue would be about the same as last year, around $10.2
billion. But the latest projections now show revenues falling by
$850 million, Vaught said.
"Basically, what happened is unemployment is worse than what the
economists were projecting," he said. "We're in the same boat as the
rest of the economy."
The statewide unemployment rate for August was 10 percent,
compared with 6.7 percent a year earlier.
In addition, revenues from riverboat gambling are now expected to
be $50 million lower than projected, because a Joliet casino was
closed for several months by a fire.
Legislative leaders said Quinn briefed them Wednesday on the
latest budget figures but didn't request any action. In fact, the
one thing they agreed to do was to spend about $200 million more for
college scholarships and decide later exactly how to come up with
"Revenues continue to falter, which means we're looking at a very
bad situation next year," said Senate Minority Leader Christine
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The Democratic governor advocates raising income taxes to reduce the
state's stubborn budget problems. Lawmakers, however, refused to go
along with that this spring, despite a deficit that topped $11
Instead, officials patched together a budget that depended on
borrowing money, delaying bills and promising unspecified spending
cuts. Critics say it shortchanged many important programs that help
the elderly, disabled and needy.
Now Quinn's office says the situation is nearly $1 billion worse
Vaught said Quinn wants permission to borrow roughly $1 billion
from funds set up to pay for specific services, often supported by
fees on particular groups. In addition, there are some technical
steps that can be taken to save money on bonds, he said.
Although Quinn still wants a tax increase, legislative leaders
have made clear they won't consider the idea until February, after
the primary election. Vaught said he hopes the latest budget news
prompts lawmakers to act quickly when they do consider taxes.
By CHRISTOPHER WILLS]
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