Mon June 30, 2014
Quinn Makes Minor Changes To State Budget
Illinois will have a budget in place when the state's new fiscal year begins Tuesday. The governor signed it into law Monday. He left much of the plan approved by Democratic legislators intact, with a couple of exceptions meant to play well with voters.
It's not the budget Gov. Pat Quinn wanted.
He advocated for making permanent Illinois' 5-percent income tax, rather than allowing it to rollback in January.
Instead, the new budget lets that happen, which means there's an approximately $2 billion drop-off in revenue.
Legislators paved that over with short-term solutions, in order to prevent drastic cuts in an election year.
Though Quinn has called it "incomplete," he's going along with it.
He didn't cut a single penny from the operating budget.
Instead, the Democratic governor used his veto power to take out a small fraction of the billions of dollars Illinois is continually spending on construction projects: $250 million set aside to pay for renovations on the Statehouse.
Construction at the Capitol caused a controversy last year -- like over $670,000 spent on copper-doors, and expensive chandeliers and custom carpets.
In a statement, Quinn's office wrote that Illinois "cannot afford to move forward with additional renovations." A call to the capitol architect has not been returned.
State Representative Bob Pritchard, R-Hinckley, says he's not surprised by the action, considering that Quinn is in the middle of a re-election campaign. But Pritchard says this is not the way the state should kick off a new fiscal year.
"We're looking at how can we sweep money from other funds? how can you delay payments? Do all of those things we did five years ago that got us into the financial mess we're in," Pritchard said.
Bruce Rauner, the Republican nominee for governor, says the spending plan Gov. Quinn has signed into law is a "broken budget."
In a statement Monday, Rauner says there should be structural reforms to "shake up" the way Springfield does business. Rauner has released some ideas of his own proposed spending plan, including merging the comptroller and treasurer's office.
On the Democratic side, Senate President John Cullerton says the state budget secures funding for key priorities, but added that difficult decisions are coming.