Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn is asking business leaders to help him pass legislation that will mean pain for union members and poor families.
Quinn says Illinois must control the growing cost of government pensions and health care. He proposes cutting pension benefits and Medicaid services by billions of dollars.
Quinn spoke to a business conference Wednesday and asked for help in meeting what he calls "the challenge of our time."
"I did not create this pension problem. I did not creat the Medicaid problem. But my job is here to solve that problem, with your help. Because this is the moment," he said.
David Vite of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association introduced Quinn by praising his "bold and innovative" proposals to strengthen the state budget.
Unions object to the pension cuts, saying they penalize workers for decades of government failures. And social service advocates say cutting Medicaid will hurt people who most need help and kill thousands of jobs.