Illinois Budget Address 2009

 

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - March 18 - Following is the prepared text of Gov. Pat Quinn's (D) 2009 budget address:

Click to access the governor's Web page to view or hear the address.

Ok. Thank you. Thank you very much. Ok. Ok. Ok. Thank you. I hope you're applauding at the end of this speech. Ok. Thank you very much.

Hey, I think I certainly appreciate the kind and warm reception.

I want to thank everyone for everything you've been able to do for me and for our state.

And in the past seven weeks and indeed in the past months before the last seven weeks, I think the people of Illinois are proud of the members of the General Assembly and how you've conducted the public's business.

I want to say good afternoon to everyone. We believe in warm greetings in Illinois.

And I want to point out to everyone that our state is one state and we believe in everybody being in and nobody being left out.

It was nearly seven weeks ago that I had the honor of being sworn in at this very place as the forty-first governor of the state of Illinois. It was a high honor indeed.

And as you know, this came about this event after a political ordeal that harmed and embarrassed the people of the state of Illinois.

And for too long, our state has suffered from corruption that has damaged our political reputation and most tragically it has deeply hurt our citizens.

And Illinois is still recovering from the conviction of former Governor George Ryan.

And our state is still reeling from the arrest of former Governor Rod Blagojevich and his subsequent removal from office.

And many serious problems have resulted from this bi-partisan betrayal of the public trust.

Our government has an integrity crisis and Illinois must embrace far reaching ethics reform.

Illinois also has a fiscal crisis.

Our state is staggering today to pay an eleven-and-a-half billion-dollar deficit and we have a mountain of unpaid bills.

The Illinois economy is also in crisis.

Unemployment is rising. Our people are hurting.

To be direct and honest: Our state is facing its greatest crisis in modern times.

But I am not here to dwell on the past.

Nor preach gloom and doom.

On the contrary…I am an optimist.

And I have complete faith in the good people of Illinois.

They have the strength of character to meet any challenge.

And to save our state, we have to make tough choices.

So today, I present a budget for fiscal year two-thousand-and-ten.

And this budget is balanced.

It also speaks honestly and directly to the people of Illinois about our tough choices.

When it is approved, this budget will achieve three crucial outcomes.

It will cut costs while dramatically raising the ethical standards for doing the public's business.

It will provide tax relief to millions of people while rescuing our state's finances.

And it will create thousands of Illinois jobs with the first major plan to rebuild our roads...our bridges…our schools and other public works in a decade.

This budget focuses on "three-Rs": Reform..Responsibility..and Recovery.

And it's important that we talk honestly about our need to reform.

In tough times, everyone, everyone, must live within their means. And that goes for government, too.

Right now, our state revenues are dropping precipitously.

We have a decline in our revenue and a failure of our revenue. And in this calamity, the state is spending more than it should.

And that's a bad situation.

But for the first time in a generation…we intend to challenge the way state government does its business.
We can no longer sustain out-of-control spending that we've seen in the past…under both parties.

Today, I am proposing major cuts and cost-reductions that will save at least $1.3 billion dollars.

These cutbacks include: Ordering state employees to take furloughs of four days… Requiring across-the-board reductions in grant programs... And making targeted cost-reductions at every state agency...

I pledge this is only the beginning of the belt-tightening.

Because today I am also appointing a new Taxpayer Action Board to evaluate all state spending and all programs.

This board will examine every nook and cranny of state government finance.

Tom Johnson -who is the president of the Taxpayer Federation of Illinois…will head the Taxpayer Action Board.

I want to thank Tom for his help and his support.

And the purpose of the Taxpayer Action Board, is to put Illinois taxpayers first.

We have to root out waste and inefficiency, and we must fix yet another enormous problem while we do that.

And that's our giant under-funded public pension systems.

For thirty years, these systems have been allowed to spin out of control.

And the result is we have at least a fifty-five billion dollar underfunded pension obligations.

Without bold reform, these pension systems will go bust.

If that happens, the lives of thousands of state retirees and workers will be terribly disrupted.

Failure to fix our public pension systems will also hurt our entire state.

It will add to our growing deficit and pile more public debt onto the taxpayers.

We cannot allow this to happen.
So on behalf of the people of Illinois, I am proposing ground-breaking public pension reforms and modernization.

Under my plan, existing employees and retirees will keep their current pension benefits from their years of service.

They are safe.

Meanwhile, newly hired and mostly younger employees will be part of a modernized system.

For example, the retirement age for new workers will be higher.

It will closely match social security and other public pension systems.

And the cost-of-living increases will be capped at a rate that's in line with other public retirement systems.

The pension system for new employees will still provide a generous retirement income.

And if we act now…this plan will reduce the taxpayers' pension obligations and liabilities by one-hundred-and-sixty-two billion dollars over the next thirty-six years.

By enacting ground-breaking public pension reforms, we can… and we will…reduce future payments.

And as part of this plan, we will still make a pension payment of one-point five-billion dollars to fund this year's benefits.

And to sum it up, under our public pension reform plan:

Current retirees and employees are protected.
Future employees will still enjoy a very good benefit package.
And the taxpayers of Illinois will save billions of dollars in future obligations.

That's a good deal for everyone.

So as we prepare for a better future, we must also make tough choices about cleaning up our government right now.

Ethics reform is of paramount importance to me and to the people of Illinois.

And in the wake of our past political scandals, the people are demanding honest and open government.

And they are going to get it.

My first act as governor was signing an executive order establishing the Illinois Reform Commission.

This independent board is investigating government practices from top to bottom.

The reform commission is led by former U.S. Attorney, Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Collins.

And in April, the Illinois Reform Commission will issue its recommendations for cleaning up state government.

I want to thank Pat Collins and his fourteen fellow commissioners for their hard work. And I look forward to their report.

Already, my administration is making government more responsive to the people.

Last month, I directed all state agencies to co-operate fully with the Freedom of Information Act. And I implemented the Illinois Sunshine Project.

As a result, the public can now go online and view an unprecedented amount of government information.

I believe and I know you do that sunshine is the best disinfectant.

The purpose of these measures, these measures are a great start of changing the old way of doing business.

And it's time to make Illinois government a model of service and openness.

It's also time to strengthen our voters...who are the heart and soul of Illinois.

State government belongs to the people, not to the office holders.

And that's why we need to give the voters of Illinois the power to recall statewide elected officials if they betray the public trust.

Along with reform comes responsibility.

All of us are responsible for making tough choices during these very difficult days.

And there's no more immediate crisis than Illinois' eleven-and-a-half billion dollar deficit.

The state's general revenue projections are bleak because the deep of the deep recession that we're in.

Next year, our annual revenues could drop to their lowest level in many many years.

But that's not the only reason for our deficit dilemma.

For nearly twenty-five years, Illinois has lived off a credit card -- racking up deficits under Democratic and Republican administrations.

And as a result, the state is staggering under a shameful mountain of unpaid bills.

When we don't pay our obligations on time, that hurts every business in our state. The businesses that we deal with are damaged.

And what are these businesses? They are: Hospitals…Nursing homes... Pharmacies… Schools…Thousands and thousands of small businesses located throughout Illinois, throughout our state, are affected.

Failure to pay is forcing these good businesses to cut their operations.

They have to lay off their workers…which adds to unemployment…These businesses hold back on paying their own bills…which injures other companies…And in some cases businesses go out of business…which deeply hurts our economy.

Now this is wrong. We know it's wrong.

And it is not a blueprint for sound fiscal or public policy.

Illinois has a moral obligation and responsibility to rid itself of this destructive deficit…

Illinois is not is not a deadbeat state that refuses to pay its bills…

The people of Illinois will not take from our children by forcing them to pay our debts…

And I strongly believe there is a fair and honest way to pay our bills and meet our obligations.

Together, we can do it by approving the Illinois Economic Recovery and Tax Reform Act of 2009.

Let's talk about tax reform. And I mean reform, tax reform that produces tax relief for middle-class and working families.

Under the plan that I am presenting today: Five million people in Illinois will get major tax relief…There will be no gas tax increase…And Moms and Dads will enjoy a sales tax holiday for ten days in August on the purchase of their kids' school clothes and school supplies…

The basis of my tax relief plan is this: The state should not tax struggling families into poverty.

Working families…who live from paycheck-to-paycheck...must have tax relief.

And it's a principle, it's a principle that is as old as the Bible.

Taxes should be based on ability to pay.

And the most compelling case for tax reform is found in our own Illinois tax code.

For two decades our state has had one of the most unfair tax systems in the United States.

A major problem is that the Illinois personal tax exemption is only two thousand dollars per person.

Now the whole purpose of the personal exemption is meant to shield income from taxation, so that families have more money to raise their kids.

But the current Illinois personal exemption amount of only $2000 dollars..doesn't come close to providing enough tax relief for families.

This is especially true for middle class families...for modest income families...for working poor families and especially in these difficult times.

There is something wrong when our state gives more tax breaks to those who raise thoroughbred horses than it gives to parents raising children!

When I was growing up, I remember hearing Jacquelyn Kennedy, the widow of the late president say, if you bungle raising your children, nothing else in life matters.

And I think in Illinois it's very, very important when we deal with taxes and revenue that we remember children first.

And the personal exemption for a hundred years in our country has been the essence of protecting families raising children.

We have to rise to the occasion in Illinois this year and enact fundamental tax reform that provides tax relief to families raising children.

Right now, the two-thousand-dollar personal exemption gives a family-of four an eight-thousand-dollar tax break. That's insufficient.

I propose that we improve the value of the personal exemption to six thousand dollars per person.

So that means in a family-of-four there will be a twenty-four-thousand dollar tax break. That helps families raising children.

By improving the value of the personal tax exemption to six-thousand dollars per person…Five million people in Illinois will receive tax relief this year and will pay no tax increase.

This is a crucial point and it bears repeating: Five million people in our state will get tax cuts during this very tough economic time.

And that is true even if the income tax rate is raised from 3% to 4.5%.

A family of four with an income of thirty-thousand dollars under our plan…will get a seventy-two percent tax reduction.

A family of four with an income of forty-five-thousand dollars will get a twenty-two-percent tax reduction under our plan.

Families earning about sixty-one thousand dollars will break even. And those making more will have a modest increase.

For example: A family of four making seventy-five thousand-dollars annually will pay one-hundred-and-forty-six more dollars in taxes...That is an eleven percent increase...

Now there's been a lot of simplistic and loose talk about income taxes going up fifty-percent.

But when you examine our plan you'll see that's not true. That's because the personal exemption is there to shield the family income.

Working families on their own cannot-and should not-shoulder the whole entire tax burden.

This is a time for shared sacrifice. Big corporations that have done well and are doing business in Illinois, they have to do their part.

And I intend to close millions of dollars of unfair corporate tax loopholes.

We are going to balance the budget through a combination of: Very tough cuts…

The federal stimulus dollars that President Obama, through his leadership, has provided to our state and every state….

We're gonna have ground-breaking public pension reforms…

We're gonna close corporate loopholes.

And there will be a modest tax increase on those with the ability to pay…

Together, we will plug this gaping budget deficit of eleven-and-a-half billion dollars.

And just as importantly, we will have permanent tax relief….for the people who need it the most in Illinois.

We will restore our state's financial integrity…

And we will save our children from a terrible economic fate that threatens to rob their hopes and their dreams…

The great thing about America...And the great thing about Illinois...Is that parents sacrifice some of their present in order to help their kids' future.

That's what we are. We're custodians of our children's future.

And we want our children and their children to be proud of what we are doing today.

Now, there will be some who oppose our plan to balance the budget and bring tax reform and tax relief to the people.

I understand that. We're in a democracy. And no plan is perfect.

But if you reject the needed revenue increases to balance our budget, then you must tell the people of Illinois what you will do instead.

Illinois' eleven-and-a-half billion dollar deficit, that's 11.5 billion dollar deficit, the largest in our state's history, it's not gonna go away on its own.

Some will contend that we have to raise revenue in a more creative way.

You might recall that less than two years ago...my predecessor tried to impose a gross receipts tax on the people...that would have been the largest single tax increase in the history of Illinois.

I opposed it. And this body unanimously struck it down in this very chamber.

The time for such gimmicks is over.

There are others who say more and more gambling is the big answer to our problems.

But do we really want to solve our budgetary problems by expanding gambling everywhere the eye can see?
I don't think that's a good bet.

Now there are others who will argue for a doomsday budget that simply cuts state spending...in a very mean-spirited way..without any reform.

But if you propose a doomsday budget, then tell us what programs you would eliminate to save 11 and a half billion dollars and balance this budget.

Put it out there. Let us all see it. Look at it. Hear about it.

Saying 'no,' saying 'no' is not enough...unless you are willing to speak the truth and offer real alternatives.

Since entering office, since entering office I have spent at the governor's mansion night and-day, it's a very nice house, everyone is invited, and the food is very good.

It belongs to the people. And I think it's important that we every day remind ourselves that we are here on the people's business.

And, and that great mansion, that Abraham Lincoln once walked by, I've spent a lot of time poring over our, the fine print of our state's finances.

And as your governor, I can honestly say a budget that only offers mean-spirited tactics will hurt all of our citizens.

And further damage our economy.

Let's face the facts:

If we use mean-spirited tactics...Eight-hundred thousand children, senior citizens and people with disabilities will lose their health care…

If we only use mean-spirited tactics...More than 34-thousand teachers will be laid off. Class sizes will increase by 25-percent…

If we use mean-spirited tactics...More than ten-thousand senior citizens will no longer receive critical state services…

If we use mean-spirited tactics...We will have to lay off hundreds of state police officers and endanger public safety.

Those are only a few examples of a mean-spirited doomsday budget.

Now I don't believe that people of Illinois support a harsh and mean-spirited doomsday budget.
This is not what the land of Lincoln is all about.
Illinois is a community of shared values...

We are not a collection of 13 million individuals who don't care about their neighbor.

Consider last month, when nine southern Illinois counties were crippled by one of the worst ice storms in history.

Fast action was needed to save people…and restore power to homes and businesses….and repair the entire region.

The Illinois, state of Illinois Emergency Management Agency...working with county and local authorities…saved the day.

Among those leading the charge was the mayor of Metropolis Mayor Billy McDaniel.

Billy is here today. Why don't you stand up Billy? Billy McDaniel, mayor of
Metropolis, the home of Superman, on behalf of the grateful people of Illinois..

We want you to take a bow for taking care of your neighbors. The people of Southern Illinois prove once again that service to others is the rent we pay for our place on God's earth.

This is what the people of Illinois are all about. It's about working together to help our neighbors and build our communities.

Working together with this General Assembly, we will pass a budget that will put us on the road to recovery.

Creating an environment that provides useful, important jobs for everyone is my top priority.

If you're able bodied and you're breathing...

We want you working in Illinois.

In Illinois, the unemployment rate today is seven-point-nine percent.

Over five-hundred-thousand people, our neighbors, are out of work and looking for work.

We must get back to work and fast!

And that's why I urge quick passage of the "Illinois Jobs Now" plan.

This initiative will support nearly three-hundred-and-forty thousand jobs across our state. It's a twenty-six billion dollar plan, it will provide: Fourteen-billion dollars to build and upgrade our roads and bridges….

It will provide five-billion dollars to improve our public transit…

Four-billion dollars to repair our schools and build new ones…Two-billion dollars for the environment…for energy, conservation...and for technology projects…

A billion dollars for much-needed economic development efforts across Illinois…

Included in that number, we will build a third airport in the south suburbs of Chicago... And we will build it as fast as humanly possible.

Funding for Illinois Jobs Now, this plan will come from a combination of state…and federal and local sources.

Road and bridge construction will be funded by modest increases in some vehicle usage fees.

It will also draw some money from the road fund. Passing this plan means creating jobs in a hard-hit construction and building industry.

But that's only one important aspect of Illinois Jobs Now.

This plan, our plan, will focus on building highways and major projects that are designed for the Twenty-First Century.

We won't just build a road.

We'll also build a trench alongside the road to install fiber optic cable…so everyone can get access to high-speed internet.

Everybody in---

Nobody left out when it comes to the internet. We need as many information super-highway jobs as we can in Illinois.

And we won't just pour concrete and asphalt.

We'll make sure that our major projects are energy-efficient and sustainable.

We need a green way of thinking, we need a green way of thinking...and a green way of acting.

And that means a lot of "green" collar jobs…across the land of Lincoln.

We'll also have to make sure that the contract process is open and guarantees that taxpayers always get their money's worth.

And everyone who wants a job will get a fair and equal opportunity to find work.

There's much to be done and very little time to do it.

So I urge the General Assembly, my friends, to speed our state's economic recovery by quickly passing the "Illinois Jobs Now" plan.

Our recovery, our recovery depends on you. And our recovery also depends on protecting our children and senior citizens.

Illinois had a Poet Laureate once upon a time, by the name of Carl Sandburg, and he once said that ..

"The birth of a baby is God's opinion that the world should go on."

Therefore, our budget, the budget presented before you today, will not cut healthcare for our most vulnerable citizens...including children and senior citizens.

Our budget will ease the burden of Medicaid providers by reducing the payment schedule, not from months and months of waiting to be paid, but to 30 days, the way any good business operates.

Another top-priority for the people of Illinois is education.

There are two forces in life: On one side there are the movers and the shakers.

And on the other side there are those who are moved and shaken--and the difference between them, is education.

Education is the key to equal opportunity and economic empowerment.

We always have to remember, in this day and age, that jobs follow brain power.

And Illinois needs all the brain power it can muster in the 21st Century.

Even in tough economic times we always must invest in quality and accountable education.

Therefore, I plan in this budget to increase funding for early childhood education, for elementary education and for secondary education.

And at the same time, our plan will commit forty-million-dollars to community colleges and higher education.

We are not cutting back on education.

The best way to attract and keep business in Illinois is to offer employers in the Twenty-First Century, in an information economy, a smart well trained work force. That's what Illinois is all about.

Now I think it's very important at this time that we honor those who serve our country.

It's a very difficult week, we lost three soldiers from our National Guard on Monday.

Since I've been sworn in, Illinois has had twelve soldiers killed in action defending our democracy.

And we honor their lives and mourn their loss and we honor the men and women of Illinois who have gone forward in the face of danger since two thousand and one - September eleventh, to protect our democracy.

Now I think it's important that we remember those men and women today and everyday and with us today is the family of Captain Ryan Beaupre.

I'd ask them to stand up.

Mark and Nicky Beaupre, their son Ryan.

To me Ryan Beaupre who gave his life at the age of thirty is the essence of a just man.

I attended his funeral, a very sad day, in Saint Anne, Illinois, it was almost six years ago to this day.

And I have the program from Ryan's funeral and it says a just man, though he die early, shall be at rest.

And on that program, it says that Ryan was a great marine and a great man, he possessed every good quality I can imagine.

Physical, mental and moral.

And to tell you what kind of a person Ryan Beaupre was, he wrote back to his family in a letter, he was in Iraq and Kuwait.

"There are so many guys here who have wives and children lined up to use the phone, I'll let them go first. And I'll be in touch with you my family as soon as possible."

Ryan never shrank from a challenge whether it was leading his school's sixteen hundred meter relay team to a state title, or flying helicopters in a war zone.

And I think as we do the public business, it is important that we realize that among us are great heroes.

The word hero is banded about rather carelessly in our society.

Someone makes a free throw to make the game, they are the next day's hero.

Or some rock star or celebrity is called a role model. They really aren't genuine heroes or role models.

The heroes and role models are the Ryan Beaupres of our society.

They answer the call to duty. They do so with great courage, with great sacrifice, with generosity.

They live up to the words of the third verse of America the Beautiful. And that says:

Oh beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife
Who more than self their country loved
In mercy more than life.

Ryan Beaupre and his comrades gave their last full measure of devotion to our democracy. We thank him.

And all service members and their families for doing their duty so well and so unselfishly.

It's important, I think, to honor their memory, that we make sure that our veterans, our service members, get proper care.

Our budget calls for fully funding the military family relief trust fund that provides financial assistance to the families of our guard members and reservists who are called to active duty.

These are our citizen soldiers. Three thousand right now are in Afghanistan of our National Guard.

It's important that we take care of their families and their financial needs.

Our budget also calls for properly funding the line of duty benefit to provide financial assistance to the sons and daughters and spouses of those who were killed in action defending our democracy.

And our budget also provides funding, full funding for the 80-bed expansion in the LaSalle Veteran's Home.

It allocates seventeen-million-dollars to a 200-bed Chicago veterans home, Chicago does not have a veterans home.

Our budget expands funding for veterans' care.

To provide health insurance to the men and women who don't have health insurance and who have served our country and worn the uniform of our country.

The family of Illinois believes in the words of Abraham Lincoln.

That it is the duty of all of us on the home front, to take good care of those who bear the battle on the frontline.

And since taking office, I have traveled all over our state.

From Chicago all the way to Metropolis...From Quincy on the west to Champaign on the east and all parts in between.

And throughout my travel, people have wished me well. And I am very grateful to them.

And they've taken me into their confidence. And looked me straight in the eye.

Our citizens want an end to past bitterness and friction.

They long for brighter days ahead.

And they are counting on us to make their lives better.

And we must not let them down.

Fellow citizens, inaction is not an option…

Gutting our state's services is not a solution…

Playing politics is a loser's game…

This is the land of Lincoln.

We celebrate Abraham Lincoln's two-hundredth birthday this year.

In many ways the hardships of Lincoln's time match our own.

Economic distress…war…deep political division.

Lincoln confronted these problems with humor, and grace and wisdom.

And today, I urge everyone to summon the courage and spirit of Abraham Lincoln.

We have the mettle to make tough choices.

Pass this budget...

Let's begin a new era of Reform…Responsibility…and Recovery.

It's time to make the will of the people...the law of the land.

So help us God.

Thank you very much.

 
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