UPDATED 05/09/11 10:39 a.m.

CHICAGO (WBBM) — A tax watchdog group claims Gov. Pat Quinn is not being realistic in how deep in the red the state’s finances are.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya reports, a new report from the Civic Federation says Quinn’s proposal ignores nearly $1 billion in money the state is going to have to put out – mostly in the form of income tax refunds and a backlog of refunds due to businesses.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya reports

The federation says the state budget is really $2.5 billion out of whack – meaning taxpayers will get whacked with hundreds of millions of dollars in interest payments on borrowing the governor wants to do.

“We cannot use revenue gimmicks. We cannot use borrowing. We have to stop pushing our obligations out into the future and make, unfortunately, the tough choices of reducing spending,” said Civic Federation president Laurence Msall.

Msall says pension reform for government workers is also needed, because pensions are now 17 percent of the state budget.

Quinn issued a response to the criticism Monday morning. In a statement, he said the group’s analysis “underestimates the degree to which job creation and paying down our backlog of bills will affect our ability to continue putting our fiscal house in order.”

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