Quinn and the state's top legislators gathered in a closed-door
meeting in Chicago to discuss the agenda for a veto session next
month. Quinn said the agenda would include ways to restore college
assistance to thousands of Illinois students, campaign finance
reform and an economic recovery package.
Quinn has said the state
desperately needs revenue from an income tax hike to help fill a
budget deficit he has estimated at $9.2 billion, but legislative
leaders told reporters an increase was not discussed during
Quinn told reporters it would be easier to pass the increase next
year because a three-fifths vote is required in the fall legislative
"We need revenue, obviously, to ultimately pay these bills off,
but given the constitutional requirements ... I don't anticipate
that subject coming up," Quinn said of the veto session.
Quinn said the state has about $3.9 billion in unpaid bills.
Legislative leaders at the meeting, including House Speaker
Michael Madigan and House Republican Leader Tom Cross, said they
discussed other ways to address the state's budget shortfall and pay
Madigan, who suggested state workers go without scheduled raises
to help close the deficit, told reporters that he is in favor of
raising the cigarette tax.
[to top of second column]
Earlier this year, Quinn proposed a $1 cigarette tax he had
estimated would generate $365 million in revenue by its second year.
A pared-down bill won approval in the Illinois Senate but stalled in
Illinois Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno said more
layoffs among state workers are inevitable. So far, 2,600 state
workers have been laid off, she said.
Leaders at Wednesday's meeting said they also want to focus on
ways to restore funding to the Monetary Award Program, which helps
around 200,000 Illinois students pay for college. The state's
largest financial aid program doesn't have the money to fund
students in the second half of the 2009-2010 academic year.
"That was the first item on the agenda," Madigan told reporters.
He and other leaders did not offer specifics.
By SOPHIA TAREEN]
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This
material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or