Tuesday, July 26, 2011
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Quinn continues to defend budget without raises

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[July 26, 2011]  CHICAGO (AP) -- Gov. Pat Quinn on Monday defended signing a budget that his administration says didn't fully fund a dozen state agencies even without the raises he canceled for thousands of state workers.

The state acknowledged the depth of its money trouble in a court filing last week in a legal battle with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees over $75 million in raises that Quinn canceled for about 30,000 state workers.

Quinn has said he can't pay the raises because he says lawmakers didn't give him enough money in the budget to do it.

"The General Assembly adopted a budget for these various agencies that is very, very sparse indeed in some cases, and we have to not give raises -- that's No. 1 -- and we may have to do other things as well in order to maintain core services," Quinn said Monday after arriving home from a weeklong educational trip to Israel.

In a court filing, the state said 12 of the 14 agencies where employees had their raises canceled don't have enough money to make payroll through the end of the fiscal year next June even without the raises. The cash-strapped state has been trying to navigate a deficit that includes a mountain of unpaid bills.

Anders Lindall, a spokesman for AFSCME Council 31, blasted Quinn for provoking "a wasteful legal battle with those who do the real work of state government" because employee raises aren't the root cause of the problem.

"The state's filing essentially admits that the cost of the negotiated pay schedule is minor compared to the broader budget crisis. The governor should focus on fixing the budget to meet all the state's obligations, not only to state employees but the citizens they serve," Lindall said.

The union has sued the governor in federal court and taken its case about the raises to an arbitrator. The arbitrator ruled Quinn had to pay but the governor appealed in Cook County Circuit Court and won a reprieve last week when a judge temporarily halted the raises.

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Quinn, a Democrat from Chicago, said Monday that he signed the budget lawmakers passed in May because it was better to have one even with "shortcomings" and "flaws."

If the Democrat-controlled General Assembly hadn't passed a budget by June, Republicans would have gotten a say because different rules apply and more votes would be needed to pass it. Quinn said Republicans would have pressed for deep budget cuts.

"I did not want that crowd to have an opportunity to enact that kind of budget that would have been hurtful to our state," Quinn said.

Illinois Republican Party chairman Pat Brady blasted Quinn.

"I guess Democrats' calls for bipartisanship are just a one-way street," Brady said in a statement.

[Associated Press; By DEANNA BELLANDI]

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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