Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » This just in… Quinn: Deficit could be far worse, won’t rule out gas tax hikes *** Hurtgen pleads guilty ***
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This just in… Quinn: Deficit could be far worse, won’t rule out gas tax hikes *** Hurtgen pleads guilty ***

Wednesday, Feb 25, 2009

* 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.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Proud Goo-Goo - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 2:23 pm:

    The money quote in the Hurtgen plea:

    “Defendant told the CEO that she did not want to know why Levine and Governor Blagojevich wanted Kiferbaum to get the Edward Hospital construction projects, but advised her that the support for Kiferbaum by Governor Blagojevich and those surrounding him was “all about money” for political campaigns.”

  2. - Levois - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 2:39 pm:

    Damage done by Rod Blagojevich?

  3. - Da Mare - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 2:47 pm:

    Nick Hurtgen’s old boss at Bear Staerns…Peter Fox of the famous Knight E/A…must be awefully nervous with this plea!

  4. - Quinn T. Sential - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 2:53 pm:


    Someone may want to dispatch an EMS Team for a well being check on “Individual K” to see if a spontaneous, super-sonic wedgie may have broken out in the shorts region. If so, then the SFD may have to be called upon to deploy the “jaws of life” in order to execute a successful extrication.

    Upon further review, it probably would not hurt to have a HAZMAT Team on hand just in case. It may also make sense to evacuate nearby office buildings and residences.

    Extra care and concern should be afforded to innocent women and children who should be protected from exposure from such a spectical at all cost.

  5. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 2:54 pm:

    I’ll never understand how someone with a decent job, making decent money, would risk spending a day in prison for more money. Just doesn’t compute.

  6. - OneMan - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 3:20 pm:


    Two Words: More Money

  7. - Levois - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 3:25 pm:

    OneMan: More money for nothing?

  8. - Cynic - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 3:26 pm:

    @ Wordslinger/Levois — hubris. They don’t think they’ll get caught.

  9. - Speaking at Will - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 3:27 pm:


    Quinn to have presser, Thursday 10:30 am. Will address “important issues” concerning state parks.

  10. - A Citizen - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 3:46 pm:

    “Older Whiskey, Younger Women, and More Money” !!

  11. - Quinn T. Sential - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 3:48 pm:

    Proud Goo Goo,

    The Money Quote in the Hurtgren Plea can actually be found here:

    Defendant agrees he will fully and truthfully cooperate in any matter in which he is called upon to cooperate by a representative of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois.

    This cooperation shall include providing complete and truthful information in any investigation and pre-trial preparation and complete and truthful testimony in any criminal, civil or administrative proceeding.

    Defendant agrees to the postponement of his sentencing until after the conclusion of his cooperation.

  12. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 4:00 pm:

    I wouldn’t expect Governor Quinn to rule anything out after only a few weeks on the job. There doesn’t seem to be a bottom to this thing yet, and as governor, Quinn has to keep his options open.

    I understand what he is saying and I just need to tell the Governor that he has to first demonstrate sacrifices and tough decisions cutting expenditures out of the budget before asking for more of our wages.

    He and the General Assembly have a big problem other than watching Illinois slide into massive debt. They do not have any credibility left with voters. They blew their chances by ramping up social spending claiming that Illinois was experiencing disasters of such magnitude that they had to throw massive amount of our money out the window. They were obviously wrong because we now are seeing disasters that make Governor Blagojevich’s little PR pressers look like Happy Days.

    But Blagojevich and the Democrats have already jacked us up and now that the real disaster is upon us, are dead broke. The Democrats have cried “wolf” for the past seven years - and we are not tapped out.

    Consequentially, Quinn and the Democrats now face the Real Thing with empty pockets thanks to their wasteful and ridiculous overspending. They do not have any credibility with voters, and they need to know this first.

    So before you cry to us to bail you out of the disasters you have created for us, try a little honesty. Tell voters what programs will need to go, which of the hundreds of boards will be closed, which of the endless lists of salaried political chit positions will be axed. Keep talking about frugality, and then do it!

    After you’ve shown a willingness to cut to the quick - then begin discussions about taking more of our money. Not before.

    Or the Democrats will lose. We are dead tired of the crap passing for leadership in this state over the past several years and will tolerate no more.

  13. - Ghost - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 4:20 pm:

    — “tough decisions cutting expenditures out of the budget before asking for more of our wages. —

    Where VM? identify whats left in the budget to cut? the past Gov has substantialy reduced staffing and other expenditures to cover pet projects to the point that many areas are dangerously understaffed/underbudgeted.

  14. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 4:35 pm:


    I guess “pet projects” would be a logical place to start, then…although I don’t think there’s anywhere close to $9 bil worth.

  15. - 2ConfusedCrew - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 5:17 pm:

    Has anyone ever explained why Edwards talked with Levine when they had Blagoof insider Wilhelm on the payroll?
    The other great mystery is what led Edwards to wire up the phone.

  16. - A Citizen - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 5:33 pm:

    Time to undo All of blago’s and Emil Jones’ based increases and broadening of programs - yes that includes healthcare and education. Then figure out how much money is needed to pay off ALL debt, including pensions and temporarily ( two to four years) raise the income tax to gather the necessary funds (taxpayers’ money) to bring the state into a fiscally healthy position. Then repeal the temporary income tax increase, lower fees and special assessments etc. and live within our means withouit borrowed money and the huge interest costs that go with it. Bite the bitter bullet and be done with it.

  17. - Used to be a State Employee - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 5:49 pm:

    Ghost, Blago may have reduced staffing, but it was from the wrong area. He looked at cutting the lower level positions and not those higher up. There are still a lot of people sitting in positions that they received as a reward and not because the position was needed OR they were qualified to do it. That’s where they need to really look for staff reductions.

  18. - cogenerator - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 6:46 pm:

    And through all of this,a principal architect of the Blagojevich house of cards is the new head of the Illinois Finance Authority.


  19. - Anon only because I have to be - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 7:25 pm:

    cogenerator, that is exactly right. One of the key players in the former administration’s running the state further into the ground ethically and fiscally is still sitting right there at the IFA. It is rumored he is very close to the present governor and feels more empowered than ever.

    Hard pill to swallow that the same people who helped move the Blago agenda forward, rewarded their friends at the expense of the taxpayers and terrorized state employees are still sitting in agencies’ top spots and feeling very comfortable. Just nauseating.

  20. - Glenview - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 7:32 pm:

    Hurtgen must be rolling over on a lot more people.

    Fitz had Hurtgen “Dead to Rights”. With rezko cooperating Fitz had Blago set fall like a bowling pin. So the only reason to work with Hurtgen is that he is probably ratting out a whole mess of people- maybe not just in Illinois.

    One strange thing in this investigation has been the Ata info about Kjellander getting Rove to “take care of Fitz”. Considering Hurtgen’s connection to former WH adimistration officals this might be an add-on to this amazing investigation.

    The plane ride is hilarious. So far all have been convicted or pled guilty of a crime except two- Blago and his bodyguard.

    Kjellander is prob. in some dirty underwear tonight. Cellini and Fox are sweating it big time.

    Hurtgen was named in the Ryan indictment too so you know he was in deep with GOP people too.

    There is no way Fitz would have cut a deal unless Hurtgen is giving it all up.

  21. - Glenview - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 7:39 pm:

    Actually, Hurtgen is the pin holding this whole thing together.

    Knight E/A got the contracts to consult on the tollway. Knight E/A had cotract work with the City of Chicago.

    Then there are all the projects that need bonding-Roads, Hospitals, Muni stuff the whole works.

    Hurtgen is probably, the single most important element to this whole investigation. He brings together the combine (kjellander/Rezko/Kelly/Cellini et al). He explains how it all works. And there is no way unless he had seriously important info Fitz would have made a deal becuase everyone else that is indicted so far is already cooked.

    Also, at one point Hurtgen was involved with some gambling stuff- can’t recall the details but it’s out there somewhere.

    This is actually just getting interesting.

  22. - Bookworm - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 8:15 pm:

    This may seem like a silly question, but I have to ask, just how this deficit get so huge so suddenly? Have state revenues really tanked that much in just the past 6 months? Or is this the result of stuff the Blago Administration swept under the rug for several years or more? I cannot help but wonder what Blago would have done with this year’s budget had he been allowed to remain in office… would he have found some way to paper over this deficit or would it have gotten too big even for him to hide?

  23. - hisgirlfriday - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 9:13 pm:

    Good old Tusk. Is it just me or is kind of weird how he got out of the Blago admin so unscathed (at least in comparison to Rezko, Kelly, Wyma, etc…)? I mean going from deputy of Blago’s to a senior VP at Lehman Bros. (working to sell state govt’s like Illinois on the idea of turning over their lotteries to Wall Street banksters like Lehman) and no one ever really picked up on that?

    And now he’s back plugged into the NY political scene and no one ever gives him any grief for his Blago ties as far as I can tell. Weird.

    And Bookworm… The deficit has been yawning each and every year since way back to Ryan still being there pretty much, they’ve just stopped pretending to pass balanced budgets these days. John Filan found creative ways to cover up the red ink year after year and the GA often used the pension fund as a piggy bank putting off the inevitable (and raising our puny income tax) just one more election cycle for as many election cycles as they could. Well now they can’t any more.

  24. - Lynn S - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 10:40 pm:

    Let’s let Fitz take a crack at Tusk (has probably built a good enough case now), and we’ll see if he continues to stay “clean”. Going to NY was probably a great idea; put at least 6-8 states between himself and any Blago news until Blago got busted.

  25. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Feb 26, 09 @ 9:00 am:

    Dear Ghost -
    No one but you are trying to tell those of us demanding budget cuts that there isn’t $9 Billion available to cut.

    Everyone knows that, and no one is claiming otherwise. My posting demanded that cuts should be made first, that sacrifices be seen in government first, that commissions, agencies and boards be cut first, or eliminated completely. I would start with the Health Planning Board. It has been a center of corruption, over-regulations, anti-free market mentality, and has hamstrung the very issue it is supposed to have planned for. The Board never made any sense, and is an obsolete throwback to 1950’s Big Government Mentality popular in the 1970’s. This, as well as dozens of other boards, commissions and agencies add no value to Illinoians and should be eliminated during this budget crisis.

    These cuts should be implemented by Governor Quinn first. No new taxes until voters see that their bloated government is reigned in.

    And I’m not even starting to talk about the structural deficit none of our supposed leaders are willing to address that will consume every tax dollar raised in 2009.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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