At noon today, Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to answer the question of the year and perhaps of his political career: Will he cut spending or push to make a temporary income tax permanent? Either path will be difficult as he campaigns for re-election.
Quinn likely will choose continued higher taxes, either an extension of the current tax or a substitute progressive tax. He probably will do as fellow Democrats did a few days ago and drag out the worst of the worst examples of what will happen if the tax expires. That's easier than offering plans to restructure government, eliminate obscure, wasteful programs or gasp, eliminate any jobs of government employees/political supporters.
We doubt he will mention how he and lawmakers frittered away their chance to get the state to solid fiscal ground with the extra income taxes they've collected the past few years.
Remember, they were going to pay down the state's overdue bills and stabilize spending but instead used the extra revenue as an excuse to procrastinate. They put off pension reform and continued to spend beyond the state's means.
Quinn probably will make the case that a permanent tax increase is the only way out. But Illinois is not in any better shape as a result of the temporary tax, so why should the public think the state's outlook would improve if the tax increase were made permanent?