SPRINGFIELD - Illinois is in stronger financial condition than it was five years ago, Governor Quinn said as he opened his 2014 budget address Wednesday in Springfield.
"For too many years, our state was spending more than it was taking in, but since then we cut state spending by $5.7 billion," Quinn said to a joint meeting of the Illinois House and Senate. Since then, Quinn said, Illinois has saved money by renegotiating contracts, cutting the use of paper, pagers and land lines saving the state millions.
"We closed and consolidated more than 50 state facilities, and overhauled our Medicaid budget," Quinn said. "We reformed our workmen's compensation system, and we made Illinois government more sustainable."
"We took on the pension crisis, unlike the past, I made the pension payment every single year since I became governor," Quinn said. "Together, we got the job done."
Illinois is in much stronger position after paying down $5 billion in late bills, he said.
Quinn then proposed what he won't do to improve Illinois finances.
"I won't institute any new unfair taxes on everyday services," Quinn said. "and I won't tax retirement income. We shouldn't balance our budget on the backs of senior citizens."
Quinn said he would not underfund public schools, and shift more of the tax burden on local home owners.
"It's time to take bold steps to prevent cuts to schools and essential care," he said. And proposed four steps for his five year blueprint plan:
1. Refund $500 to Illinois property taxpayers
2. Double the value of the state's income tax credit
3. Provide tax cuts for businesses for job training
4. Maintain current income tax rate
Those budget proposals, Quinn said, will balance the budget and allow an increase of $1,5 in birth to 5 year education programs, $6 billion for elementary and secondary schools, and more for community colleges.
"I was elected in 2010 to be straight with the people," Quinn said. "The truth is we cannot cut our way to prosperity. We must invest in the future and head into an honest path that leads us out of budget emergencies and into a booming economy."