The top Democrat in the Illinois Senate on Monday went on the offensive over state spending. Senate President John Cullerton is calling out the Republicans running for governor.
Cullerton laid out the hits expected in next year's budget, including the roll back of the income tax hike and mandatory spending increases on things like personnel and healthcare for the poor. Add it up, Cullerton says, and it's a nearly $3 billion hole.
Republicans, particularly those running for governor, have been critical of Gov. Pat Quinn's request to push the unveiling of his own budget plan until after the primary election, in mid-March.
In response, Cullerton is inviting the Republican candidates to take a more active role in solving the problem now.
"We shouldn't have to wait for a secret plan that we would get after the election," Cullerton says.
So far the Republican candidates have been reluctant to say exactly where they'd find that money — one wants a commission to examine the entire tax system, another would suspend pensions where they are and force employees into 401(k)-style retirement plans.
What they're not saying is how they'd get their more conservative ideas through a legislature expected to remain under Democratic control.