From NBC's John Yang
How bad is the Illinois budget deficit? So bad that the governor, who's facing a tough race this fall, is doing something unthinkable in an election year -- he's talking about raising taxes.
Democrat Pat Quinn, who became governor when Rod Blagojevich was impeached and convicted, told reporters that it's "necessary" that the Illinois House consider increasing the state income tax. The state Senate approved an increase last year.
Quinn's comments came as he launched an interactive Web site laying out the details of the state's projected $13 million budget deficit (nearly one-quarter of the $55 million budget), presenting options for closing the gap, and asking for suggestions. Among the options is a tax increase. "Illinois' current tax structure can no longer finance the state's fundamental needs," the site says.
On March 10, Quinn is to submit his proposed budget for the spending year that begins July 1. There are no easy -- or popular -- choices. Eliminating all state employees would only reduce the deficit by less than a third, $4 billion.
Not an enviable position for someone on the ballot this fall.