HEADLINES : Illinois
Quinn signs budget, urges action on pension reform
Gov. Pat Quinn signed a new state spending plan Saturday, using the opportunity to try to pressure lawmakers into reforming public pensions, warning that retirement funding is rapidly squeezing out dollars that otherwise could be available for schools, health care and social services.
As he acted on the $33.7 billion budget, the Democratic governor followed through on a vow to close prisons and facilities for the developmentally disabled. He recommended shifting the bulk of $57 million lawmakers used to keep prisons open to help offset cuts to the state's child-welfare agency, which was first reported at chicagotribune.com Friday.
"I think the highest priority for me right now looking at the budget ... is the Department of Children and Family Services needs more resources. A cut of $50 million by the General Assembly is far too much. We are under court consent decrees with the federal court. We have obligations to these children who are depending on us," Quinn said.
The governor noted that while the overall operating budget is comparable to what the state spent five years ago, the amount earmarked for pensions has roughly tripled during that time, from about $1.7 billion to nearly $5.3 billion.