Illinois Senate Passes Something Resembling a Budget Proposal

Proposal gives Quinn emergency powers

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    The  Illinois Legislature punted much of the most important budget issues down the road during a session that lasted late into the night. 

    The Illinois Senate approved the $57 billion budget 31-26 early Friday morning, just hours after the 2,300-page plan was introduced.

    Their plan postpones a $3.7 billion pension payment until January, cuts spending by 5 percent and gives Pat Quinn emergency budget powers -- a move that keeps them off the hook for dealing with the state's $13 billion defecit.  They hope that after the fall election, it will be easier to reach a deal on borrowing the money, raising taxes or taking other action.

    It moves to the House, which is considering a similar proposal.
     
    Democratic leaders said they weren't happy with the proposal but had little choice. Rank-and-file legislators won't approve a tax increase or major spending cuts, they say.
     
    "We have not had the will, the fortitude to do the right thing," said the budget's sponsor, Sen. Donne Trotter, (D-Chicago).
     
    Republicans, who largely have been shut out of budget talks, condemned the proposal.
     
    "This is nowhere near being a sincere effort at being fiscally responsible," said Sen. Matt Murphy, (R-Palatine).
     
    The two parties are so divided that they couldn't even agree on whether the measure would raise or lower state spending. Trotter said it would reduce spending by about $2 billion but provided no details to support that claim.
     
    Instead of approving spending program by program, the budget would create huge lump sums and let Gov. Pat Quinn decide how to spend it. With money tight, that means he will have to cut some services.
     
    The measure also would let him dip into special-purpose state funds and spend the money as he sees fit.
     
    Republicans ridiculed the idea of voting on a budget that even Trotter acknowledged he hadn't had time to read. They pointed out that in March, the Senate unanimously approved legislation requiring a four-day review period before voting on budget bills.

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