Lawmakers have 2 days to pass budget

General Assembly likely to get pay raises, not likely to pass infrastructure bill
May 29, 2008 4:47:21 PM PDT
Illinois lawmakers have a lot to do in the next two days. If they don't pass a budget by Saturday, they will have to go into special session to get it done. And if that special session begins it may take more votes to get a deal done.

The prevailing wisdom is lawmakers will come up with a budget by the deadline of Saturday. Whether there is enough real money to pay for everything is still a matter of some debate.

Lawmakers want to get it done by the deadline. There is no key desire to spend another summer in Springfield.

The budget deadline is approaching and most believe that it will be met. But what about the $31 billion plan to rebuild roads, bridges and schools by leasing the state lottery and adding more casino gambling licenses? On Thursday, many lawmakers said it probably wouldn't happen despite the wishes of orange-shirted laborers who argued for jobs in Springfield.

"It's just too big; there's too many moving parts. There clearly is not an interest on the part of the speaker of the house, at least at this time, of making that happen. I would be very surprised if that came together," said State Sen. Christine Radogno, (R) Lemont.

It looks like legislatures will be leaving Springfield with a pay raise - $7,000 more over two years for legislators and $20,000 more for the governor. The Compensation Review Board recommended the raises. If the house and senate don't vote them down, they will automatically take effect.

The house did overwhelmingly vote down the pay hike, but the bill hasn't been called in the senate. And it may not be.

"Here we are not able to balance our budget, not able to make our Medicaid payments, not even some of our school payments, with a huge deficit and we're awarding ourselves raises," said State Sen. Susan Garrett, (D) Lake Forest.

"Why are they getting raises when we can't get a job? We can't even get a capital plan to support our own families. Yet, they still want to still reap in the harvest for giving us nothing," said Tom DalSanto, Laborers International Union.


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