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SPRINGFIELD -- In front of an Illinois business community that has largely backed his opponent, Gov. Pat Quinn Wednesday tried to sell his plan to extend the 2011 income tax hike and criticized Republican Bruce Rauner for being vague in his budget proposals.
Quinn told a gathering of business leaders he's offered "very concrete and specific" plans, including keeping the state income tax at 5 percent beyond the end of the year, when it's supposed to lower to 3.75 percent.
"The alternative, perish the thought, is savage cuts," Quinn said.
Shortly after Quinn spoke, Rauner took the stage to criticize the state's economic struggles.
"We have a higher unemployment rate than Michigan," Rauner said. "Come on. That's ridiculous."
Quinn attacked Rauner, too, for the Winnetka Republican's efforts to "sabotage" an agreement to cut teachers' and state workers' retirement benefits late last year.
After the event, Rauner repeated that his budget plans would be coming "soon."
The dueling speeches on Rauner's turf come weeks after the two candidates took questions from Illinois Education Association members, who greeted Quinn more warmly.
The taxes issue will dominate state politics for at least the next month and probably until the November election. Lawmakers are set to decide whether to extend the tax increase by their May 31 budget deadline.