SPRINGFIELD, IL - Illinois Senate President John Cullerton issued the following statement regarding Governor Pat Quinn’s budget address:

“It’s clear that the Governor will begin to address the pressures created by Medicaid and pensions costs through bipartisan working groups that can propose solutions. I look forward to working with the Governor to address these issues this session. I hope all members of the General Assembly will consider the true cost of inaction in these two areas.

Our increasing Medicaid liability clearly illustrates the need for action. If we do nothing this session, next year’s budget will need to accommodate an additional $2.7 billion over last year. We simply can’t afford that burden. I’m confident that we will identify additional cost-cutting solutions while protecting the most vulnerable recipients.

The Governor’s proposal to make the estimated $5 billion pension payment demonstrates his commitment to meet our obligations. But we can’t afford to ignore the fact that this growing obligation is pressuring other necessary programs and services. It’s time to take the next leap forward in comprehensive pension reforms that control costs while preserving the constitutional rights of current employees and retirees. Unlike Indiana and Wisconsin, we intend to work with unions to accomplish this goal.

I’m pleased that the Governor’s plan appears to be balanced and realistic. Today he struck the appropriate tone needed to identify our challenges and outline some of the tough choices that will be made this year.”