Gov: Budget about $2 billion 'out of whack'

June 2, 2008 4:03:30 PM PDT
Governor Blagojevich says the new state budget needs a $2 billion adjustment. The governor is calling the plan worked out by lawmakers over the weekend unbalanced and unconstitutional. He is calling for a special meeting to fix it. The governor wants a special "fix-it" meeting this week with legislative leaders. The speaker of the House won't be attending, though he will send a representative.

State lawmakers were able to leave the capital Sunday with a new budget, but some say it works only if you apply a form of new math. All this sets up the possibility of another summer of political gridlock.

The budget that was passed Saturday night in Springfield is a sham, according to Republicans, and the Democratic governor says it's $2 billion "out of whack."

"As a result of that, it's fair to say that the legislative process ought to continue, and we do not have a budget for the State of Illinois," said Blagojevich.

The Governor says he wants to meet this week with legislative leaders to find ways to fix the budget, and then bring lawmakers back to vote on it and the $30 billion capital program as well.

"If the governor chooses to call a special session, we'll be here. He might contemplate about what happened last year on special sessions," said House Speaker Mike Madigan.

While the governor and the speaker exchanged pleasantries on the floor of the House Saturday night, their differences remain profound on a political and personal level.

"If he were interested in my advice, I would simply say, forget about the confrontation, forget about the conflict and try to reconcile differences. It happens here all the time," said Madigan.

"All of us are working together pretty well and I would invite the speaker to come and work with us," said Blagojevich.

The governor Monday steered away from attacking Madigan, but he clearly holds the speaker responsible for not allowing a full vote on the multi-billion dollar construction program. The speaker says the House votes aren't there, that basing a jobs plan -- in part -- on a massive expansion of gambling is bad public policy, that an income tax hike is a more appropriate ingredient. The governor is opposed to that.

And, even before the capital plan, there is this business of a budget that doesn't add up.

"They have to come together. The state taxpayers will not accept the notion of yet another tax increase as to how we balance this budget," said Laurence Msall, Civic Federation president.

There are constitutional differences at work here. The governor says the legislature, by law, must present him with a balanced budget, and that's that. The House speaker says the governor, by law, has the ability to lower spending levels if things are out of whack.


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