Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan supports a cigarette tax increase to shore up Medicaid but is predicting Republicans will block the idea. The Chicago Democrat also says Governor Pat Quinn's plan to cut pension costs is "a good start." Quinn proposes raising cigarette taxes by $1 a pack. That would raise about $670 million to help close a $2.7 billion Medicaid shortfall. But Republicans want more spending cuts. Madigan is unsure what health care reductions will be acceptable to House Democrats. Quinn also wants dramatic changes to ease pensions' impact on the budget. They include raising the retirement age, and requiring bigger worker contributions. Madigan says Quinn's plan has good ideas that will be challenged by outside groups.
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