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SPRINGFIELD -- Mayors from across Illinois descended on the Capitol on Wednesday, calling on lawmakers and Gov. Pat Quinn to keep their hands off millions of dollars in revenue that the state shares with cities and counties.

The governor has floated a plan to divert some of the state income tax revenues if lawmakers don't allow him to borrow billions of dollars to pay down a massive backlog of bills.

Mayors say the loss of funding would gut police and fire departments and reduce services cities provide to residents.

Moline Mayor Don Welvaert said the sales tax revenues are generated locally and should stay local.

"They do not belong to the state," Welvaert said.

For some communities, the hit would be significant. Normal, for example, says it could lose as much as $1.2 million. Moline would lose an estimated $1 million.

"We cannot allow that to happen, plain and simple," Welvaert said.

With budget negotiations underway, the cities say the state could take as much as $300 million in tax revenue that has flowed to municipalities for more than four decades. Under one scenario, however, cities would only lose about one-twelfth of their usual allotment.

Mayors enlisted police and fire officials to help spread the message.

"These cuts would hinder our ability to do our jobs effectively and subsequently place the people we were sworn to protect at risk," said Pat Devaney, president of the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois.

The House and Senate have approved separate versions of a budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Neither contains provisions to tap into the municipal money. Lawmakers and the governor hope to have a budget in place by May 31.


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