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Quinn’s $35.6 billion budget — 1 in every 5 dollars goes to pensions

Gov. PQuinn delivers his State State address joint sessiGeneral Assembly Illinois State Capitol Springfield February.  Quinn is preparing deliver

Gov. Pat Quinn delivers his State of the State address to a joint session of the General Assembly at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield in February. Quinn is preparing to deliver his latest budget proposal on Wednesday in Springfield. (AP Photo/Se

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Updated: April 7, 2013 1:35PM

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Pat Quinn will propose a “painful” $35.6 billion state spending plan for next year that boosts funding for pension costs while cutting spending on schools and higher education, aides said Tuesday.

The budget proposal the governor will present to state lawmakers Wednesday represents a 3-percent increase in spending over current levels but contains no tax or fee increases or sweeping new programs that might be salted within a typical election-year budget.

Instead, the growth in spending goes toward covering $6 billion in pension obligations, up from $5.1 billion this year. Next year’s pension tab amounts to 19 percent of all state spending compared to just 6 percent of the state’s spending pie six years ago.

In fact, while the Quinn administration forecasts $817 million in new revenues coming into state coffers during the budget year beginning July 1, all of that money and more — $929 million — will go toward paying for added pension costs.

“This budget is a direct result of the inaction on stabilizing pensions,” said Jack Lavin, Quinn’s chief of staff.

The education budget the governor will lay out will call for a roughly $500 million increase in spending, but little of that money will go toward the state’s classrooms.

Instead, with $842 million in added teacher pension costs, spending for actual day-to-day costs of running Illinois’ schools and universities will drop by $400 million. Only early-childhood funding and Monetary Assistance Program college for low-income college students will see funding safeguarded.

“These are not reductions the governor would like to see happen. He’d prefer we go the other way, but these are the direct results of inaction” on pensions, Jerry Stermer, Quinn’s budget director, told reporters during a Tuesday evening budget briefing.

The Fiscal 2014 spending plan Quinn will propose will contain funding to cover a new three-year contract that his administration struck this week with the American Federation of County State and Municipal Employees Council 31.

Under that deal, boosts in health-insurance premiums paid by union members and retirees would account for $900 million in savings over the life of the contract, Lavin said.

Pay increases and backpay under the old contract that the Quinn administration withheld will boost personnel costs by a total of about $212 million, Lavin said.

The spending blueprint Quinn’s aides laid out is higher than a $35.08 billion spending ceiling the House approved Tuesday, meaning the governor and House are about $500 million apart in spending for the next fiscal year.

“I don’t know what the governor’s number is, but our number has been the one we’ve used the last couple of years, and I expect it will be the one we use this year,” said state Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion), chairman of the House Revenue Committee.

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