EFFINGHAM — Area legislators weren't surprised by anything Gov. Pat Quinn had to say during his annual budget address.
"There were no real surprises," said Rep. David Reis, R-Ste. Marie. "We're not surprised they (Quinn and the Democratic majority in the General Assembly) have continued to expand government programs at an alarming rate."
Reis said state Democrats have "an insatiable appetite for spending" that has driven the state to the brink of economic ruin. He compared the attitude to picking up more items at the grocery store than the shopper has money to buy.
"It's like going to the grocery store and having $50, but you go past the $50 and just keep piling stuff in your cart."
Reis said all the sugar-coating in the world can't enable Quinn to escape raw numbers.
"We have lost 65,000 jobs since Quinn took office," he said. "Also, when Quinn took office, state spending was $28 billion. Now it's $34 billion."
Reis said it's particularly galling that Quinn announced a number of new spending projects Wednesday, including a $500 property tax rebate, a birth-to-5 education program costing $1.5 billion, a $6 billion increase in education funding, and an income tax credit for low-income families, to name a few.
Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, compared the governor's proposals to classic stories with little truth.
"What we witnessed today was a 21st century version of Aesop's Fables," Righter said in a news release. "The tall tale we heard from the governor was that, but for another multi-billion dollar tax increase, state government will come crashing down."
Righter accused Quinn of inflating the state's budget hole to sell taxpayers on the concept of extending the income tax increase passed three years ago. He, on the other hand, believes a tax rollback is feasible — and won't create the need for massive cuts in state programs.