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Civic group: Gov. Quinn’s proposed 2012 budget not ‘realistic’

Updated: August 25, 2011 12:29AM

The Civic Federation, a government finance watchdog group, is criticizing Gov. Quinn’s proposed 2012 budget after an analysis of the spending plan.

In a 95-page report being released today, the federation takes aim at Quinn’s proposal, claiming his budget artificially inflates the state’s revenues while increasing spending “beyond what is realistic.”

“While the Civic Federation is encouraged that Gov. Quinn and the General Assembly have taken some steps to resolve the state budget crisis, we cannot support an unbalanced budget that increases appropriations despite a multi-billion backlog of unpaid bills,” Civic Federation President Laurence Msall said in a statement. “Alarmingly, even though the state raised income taxes significantly this year, the new revenues will not be enough to support the governor’s budget.”

Quinn’s budget overestimates revenues by $976 million because it doesn’t set aside enough money for income tax refunds, Msall said. That makes the total budget shortfall $2.4 billion — far more than the $1.45 billion caused by the governor’s added spending alone.

Quinn’s budget spokesperson Kelly Kraft had no comment on the report’s claim that the budget does not set aside enough money for income tax refund.

The federation supports Quinn’s plan to pay employees’ pension contributions from the operating budget, Msall said — but with a $6.2 billion price tag, including debt costs, or 17 percent of all general fund expenses, the plan is not sustainable.

Kraft said: “Gov. Quinn is committed to making the required pension payments. For many years, prior to Gov. Quinn, the General Assembly did not make the full pension payments.’’

“We are now budgeting a different way. The required pension payment is part of the discretionary spending in the budget. So it is going to be paid from this budget forth.’’

And the governor’s plan to sell $8.74 billion in bonds to cover the increased spending and pay down bills will actually increase costs by as much as $4 billion over 15 years, the report states.

Contributing: Rosemary Sobol

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