* 1:32 pm - I told subscribers about this earlier today…
Gov. Pat Quinn says the state’s massive budget hole could be bigger than $9 billion by next year, creating a crisis unlike any Illinois has ever seen.
Quinn, in an impromptu discussion with reporters after a Wednesday meeting at the Capitol with Senate Republicans, said the state’s budget picture could get worse as the world’s economy continues to falter. That could mean very difficult budget decisions facing him and lawmakers, although Quinn wouldn’t commit to pushing tax increases or other solutions.
The deficit could be as bad as $11.5 billion.
“It’s no fun to talk about taxes, but we have to have a fair fiscal system that pays its bills,” Quinn said he told Republicans.
The governor said he’s skeptical of raising the state’s motor fuel tax or fees on driver’s licenses and vehicle titles to help solve the financial problems but can’t rule anything out at this point.
That “can’t rule anything out” is quite telling.
*** 1:48 pm *** Nick Hurtgen pled guilty today. He’s looking at 22.5 months behind bars and is cooperating. Hurtgen may provide a lead to a couple of different people, for instance, there was that infamous plane ride…
Levine said he spoke to Gov. Blagojevich about state boards only once: while on a flight back from New York. A fundraising trip, Levine had again footed the bill for the private jet. On board the plane to New York on Oct. 29, 2003, had been Blagojevich, Levine, lawyer and fundraiser Joseph Cari, Bear Stearns financier Nick Hurtgen, Deputy Gov. Bradley Tusk, Blagojevich friend John Wyma, fundraiser Chris Kelly and Blagojevich bodyguard Joe Morrero. On the way back, said Levine, it was just Kelly, Levine and the governor as passengers.
Levine thanked the governor for his reappointment to the Health Facilities Planning Board.
“The governor said … ‘Never discuss any state board with me,’” Levine said. Instead, Blagojevich told Levine to talk only through Rezko or Chris Kelly. But he did add, “But you stick with us and you’ll do very well for yourself,” Levine testified. “I took it to mean that I would have an opportunity to make a lot of money.”
“Mr. Kelly (then) changed the topic of the conversation,” Levine said.