Quinn floats idea to cut state money to local governments

April 29, 2011

by Tony Arnold and The Associated Press

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is floating an idea to suspend a billion dollars in state financial aid to local governments around the state.

Budget negotiations have been ongoing in Springfield. Quinn has proposed borrowing more than $4 billion to help pay the state's bills. But that plan has received the cold shoulder from a lot of legislators, since it's coming on the heels of increases to personal and corporate taxes.

So to drum up support for the borrowing plan, Quinn is banking on local government leaders to oppose his call to suspend state aid to municipalities. In turn, that would push City Halls around the state to lobby their local state legislators to approve the borrowing plan.

A spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan says he wouldn't call the idea holding legislators hostage, but more of a way for Quinn to gain leverage.

Roger Huebner, the deputy executive director of the Illinois Municipal League, said the state can't fix its deficit by creating a "financial crisis" in 1,300 cities across the state. City of Springfield spokesman Ernie Slottag said the city gets $2.7 million a year and losing it could mean 35 layoffs in the police, fire and public works departments.

Earlier this week, Illinois' comptroller said the state still faces an $8 billion budget hole despite the tax increases.