Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Budget numbers tomorrow, cuts later

By Jamey Dunn

Gov. Pat Quinn plans to release preliminary projections for his budget tomorrow. The numbers will be posted on the Internet, and legislators, as well as the general public, will have the opportunity to make suggestions on the Web site.

Republicans criticized the idea and said they doubt putting suggestions online will lead to their input being considered.

“The frustration is, we all weighed in last year and said things that needed to be done, and every single one of those was rejected,” Rockford Republican Sen. Dave Syverson said.

Quinn’s budget director, David Vaught, laid out some of the numbers for legislatures this evening. At the end of the current fiscal year, the budget deficit will be about $6 billion. Vaught said the estimated deficit by the end of next year it will be $13 billion.

He said that money coming in from the three largest revenue sources, - personal income tax, corporate income tax and sales tax - is projected to increase by about $500 million for the next fiscal year. This fiscal year, the total is about $16 billion. However, Vaught said the loss of federal stimulus funds next fiscal year will more than cancel out the gain.

Vaught said the state will have to make cuts, increase taxes, seek help from the federal government and use strategic borrowing to close the budget gap. He added that Illinois is “beyond a situation where we can do what we call efficiency cuts. … We’re at the point now where the cuts are very real. They involve the reduction of services, and they involve pain in many communities.”

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