Gov. Quinn Proposes Pension-Plagued 2014 Budget

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According to an article from the Chicago Sun-Times, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn officially proposed the state's 2014 spending budget. In his address to the General Assembly, Quinn emphasized how thinly spread finances are in light of the ongoing pension crisis. He also criticized lawmakers for not acting on the pension issue and said that it showed in a fiscal budget that leaves little room for funding classrooms and other state services and operations.

Here are some facts and details about the governor's 2014 budget proposal and his comments to the General Assembly:

* Reuters reported that the 2014 proposal consists of $62.4 billion for all funding, $35.6 billion of which is designated for general fund spending.

* The largest issue is undoubtedly the pension crisis. In 2008, pension payments tapped into 6 percent of the fiscal budget, but that is set to jump to 19 percent, or $6 billion, in the 2014 budget.

* In order to keep funding pensions, the budget projects $400 million in cuts to all levels of state-funded education, from grade schools to universities, and transportation.

* Quinn told lawmakers that "this is the most difficult budget I've ever submitted to you" and "if we are to ensure a bright future for the people of Illinois, we must cure this condition. We must enact fundamental pension reform," noted the Chicago Tribune.

* The governor suggested further paying down the state's $10 billion in unpaid bills by closing three corporate tax loopholes: the non-combination rule, the federal production activities break, and the foreign divided allowance.

* Closing such loopholes could account for about $445 million in annual savings for the state of Illinois.

* Quinn stated that he will still consider gambling expansion so as long as it meets strict ethical standards and doesn't open the door for corruption. So far, he has twice vetoed gambling expansion bills.

* The governor wants any possible gambling expansion to devote a cut of the revenue to schools and funding teacher pensions.

* The 2014 budget sets aside an extra $842 million for teacher pension costs alone while still cutting funding to schools.

* According to the Chicagoist, the budget allocates funding for the newly negotiated three-year contract between the state and the union representing state workers.

* Several lawmakers have already expressed disagreement with the proposed budget, including Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, who questioned the budget numbers.

* Illinois projects that $817 million in new revenues will come into the state beginning July 1, but all of that money will go directly towards the heightened cost of pensions.

Rachel Bogart provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. Currently pursuing her master's degree in environmental science, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.

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