Outlining his plans to shore up Illinois’ finances, Comptroller Daniel Hynes last week formally launched his run for the Democratic nomination next February against incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn.

Hynes said he would target budget cuts to trim spending back to 2005 levels and endorsed an income tax increase on the state’s top earners to achieve long-term structural balance. He also proposed the issuance of two additional casino licenses to provide one-time funds to help shore up the fiscal 2011 budget. 

Quinn had proposed a 50% hike in the state’s 3% income tax rate to raise permanent revenue for the budget as the state faced a $12 billion deficit going into fiscal 2010, which began July 1. Lawmakers rejected the plan and instead turned primarily to cuts and one-time measures while pushing $3 billion in unpaid fiscal 2009 bills off to fiscal 2010.

Hynes said his plan would put the state on a path to achieve structural balance by 2012. “I think it’s wrong to tax middle-class families during a recession,” hesaid in prepared remarks. “That is why we need something bolder and more lasting. That is why we need to reform how our income tax system works.”

Quinn is seeking his first full term. Previously the state’s lieutenant governor, he took office after incumbent Rod Blagojevich was removed by lawmakers early this year following his arrest on federal corruption charges.

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