Illinois governor calls in lawmakers on holiday

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Hoping to break a stalemate over the state's budget crisis, Gov. George Ryan took the extraordinary step of calling lawmakers into special session Monday and asking them to raise taxes by $590 million.

He proposes raising cigarette taxes 50 cents a pack, or $285 million, casino taxes $185 million and a tax on real estate transfers $120 million.

Ryan's plan also would cancel a tax break for businesses, saving the state about $240 million.

Ryan wants to cut about $260 million from the already-Spartan budget he proposed in February, his aides said. That would include cutting about 6,500 state jobs, closing a prison in Sheridan, reducing college scholarship money by $20 million and more.

"This budget is a tough proposition to accept, but the alternatives before you -- stalemate, deadlock and inaction -- are worse," Ryan said to lawmakers in a prepared statement.

The Republican governor reversed some of the proposals from his first budget speech, such as closing a state prison in Vienna -- he would close the Sheridan prison instead -- and ending numerous education grants so the money could be used for general school needs.

Plummeting revenue quickly made Ryan's February budget proposal irrelevant. Officials realized state government actually would take in less money this year than the year before, the first time that has happened in nearly half a century.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: