The Illinois House took a key first step in the state budgeting process Tuesday.
It adopted what's called a "revenue estimate" — how much money Illinois is expected to be able to spend in the next fiscal year.
The cap, of $34.495 billion, is significant in several ways: It's about a billion less than last year's number, which means lawmakers are going to have extend the tax increase or find other sources of money, or they'll have to make a lot of cuts. On the other hand, it's not as bad as some people had feared.
The House revenue estimate is important because it's been the dominant number in state budgeting in recent years.
Gov. Pat Quinn, who delayed unveiling his own budget proposal until late next month, doesn't have to use the House estimate. But Rep. John Bradley, a Democrat from Marion and chairman of the House Revenue Committee, says the governor would be "well served to abide by this number."
"He's not had good luck going against it in the past," Bradley says.
The governor's budget address is set for March 26.