By Jay Levine

(CBS) — The day after a State of the State message that stressed early childhood education, Gov. Pat Quinn hit the road.

The governor visited schools in Rockford and Chicago and for the first time in quite a while took questions from reporters.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine was there to ask the governor about the so-called “elephant in the room”: How is he going to pay for his new initiatives?

He really didn’t answer, explaining that there is a time and a place for everything. But he obviously knows he’s going to have to do something drastic to make up for the expiring person income tax increase.

The need for early childhood education for all was the centerpiece of Quinn’s address to lawmakers this week. And the governor tried to drive the point home during a visit with preschool kids.

“They can’t even vote, but they are our future,” Quinn said.

But he provided no more information than he did yesterday in Springfield as to how he’d pay for existing programs, let alone new ones. He sidestepped a question about whether he’d support extending the temporary income tax increase.

“We’re going to talk about the budget when the budget time comes,” Quinn said.

But Quinn knows that letting the income tax hike expire with nothing to replace it would result in a $2 billion hole in the budget and lead to drastic cuts in education and public safety.

And that’s before today’s half-billion-dollar proposal by House Speaker Mike Madigan to cut corporate taxes by 50 percent.

“Everyone’s free to come forward with suggestions,” the governor said.

Quinn saved his toughest comments for his Republican opponents, who question the improving job picture he painted during the State of the State.

“The people who presided over causing the American economy to go into the ditch don’t have much credibility right now in telling us how to keep on going forward,” he said.

That may have been a response to yesterday’s charge by Republican venture capitalist Bruce Rauner: that Quinn was presiding over Illinois economic death spiral.