By Andrew Thomason | Illinois Statehouse News
But Republican legislators had harsh criticism for a plan they say will cost the cash-strapped state roughly $500 million.
During his State of the State address, which came a year after the state’s individual and corporate income tax rates skyrocketed, Quinn said he’d like to create tax credits for families and businesses, invest more money in education and upgrade the state’s aging water systems.
Quinn said his Illinois Jobs Agenda 2012 would create a more job-friendly environment in a state that has seen its unemployment rate hover around 10 percent for the past several months, about 1 percentage point higher than the national average.
“If we don’t have the revenue, it really doesn’t matter. They’re great ideas we can’t afford. They are things we should probably be doing … but if we fall off the cliff three years from now these things will be pretty irrelevant,” Redfield said.
Quinn’s jobs program must past through the General Assembly, where legislative leaders, especially those on the right, were skeptical.
“As he advances new initiatives to create jobs and improve the economy, I look forward to hearing how we can fund these important priorities within a balanced budget,” Cullerton said in a news release.
Specifically, Quinn proposed eliminating the natural gas utility tax, which Republicans estimate will take away around $160 million in state revenue. Quinn said the abolition of the tax on natural gas usage will give Illinois a competitive edge over its neighbors in attracting job-creators.
“Illinois will be the only state in the Midwest without a natural gas utility tax on manufacturers, retailers and everyday families,” Quinn said.
Quinn proposed a tax credit for families with children, which would provide $100 of tax relief annually for a family of four, the governor said.
“This targeted tax relief will stimulate consumer demand, which is 70 percent of our economy. And it will create jobs for our local merchants,” Quinn said.
Quinn also called for investing more in early childhood education, modernizing classrooms with digital textbooks and high-speed Internet access, and providing scholarships for college students.
“Our youngest and most vulnerable citizens need our strongest support. Research has shown that without an early learning foundation, children fall behind in school,” Quinn said.
“I don’t know how that squares with what he himself said just a few weeks ago,” Radogno said.
The last pillar of Quinn’s jobs plan was upgrading the water systems statewide.
Quinn said his plan “will put thousands of people to work replacing broken water mains, building treatment plants, upgrading sewers and cleaning up environmental threats.”
Quinn didn’t outline how he would come up with the $500 million to cover his jobs plan, even as the state faces $8.5 billion in overdue bills despite the individual income tax rate jumping by 67 percent and the corporate income tax rate jumping by 46 percent last January.
The governor’s only mention of funding was: “I look forward to working with you to find the proper funding to meet these urgent needs.”
Requests for details to Quinn’s budget office by Illinois Statehouse News were not answered.
Cross said the state needs to tackle its ballooning Medicaid and pension spending before it looks to this jobs program.
“I’m not sure still to this day (if Quinn) gets the gravity of this situation. He certainly hasn’t demonstrated (that) in what he did today,” Cross said.
Originally reported by Illinois Statehouse News. Read the original article here.