Lawmakers continue to deal with budget crisis

July 10, 2008 3:10:20 PM PDT
An Illinois legislator's work is never done. House representatives will be returning next week to work on ways to fund the state's budget. The governor ordered the General Assembly back to work this week for a special session on the budget.

When the governor made his budget cuts Wednesday, he said he was throwing the ball back into Speaker Michael Madigan's court. Thursday, Madigan announced his next play on the state budget and that will happen next week.

With many of his 118 members angered that the governor cut some of their favorite programs, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan will convene another special session next Tuesday.

"Next week, we will provide an opportunity to members of the House who wish to file motions to restore the reductions or the line items," said Rep. Michael Madigan, (D) speaker of the House.

Wednesday, the governor said he was forced to cut $2.2 billion from the proposed budget, because House leaders would not approve his ideas to generate new revenues. Thursday, lawmakers talked about reviving the Blagojevich plan to raise hundreds of millions of dollars by raiding leftover surpluses in existing accounts.

"Nobody would be hurt by that. The money is sitting in the 700 different bank accounts," said Il. Rep. Julie Hamos, (D) Evanston.

Meanwhile, the House used the rest of this week's special session to vote down the gambling expansion component of the governor's $34 billion capital bill. Speaker Madigan noted the bill had fewer votes Thursday than it had six weeks ago.

"Those supporting this proposal are losing ground," said Madigan.

The capital bill, already approved by the Senate, would help rebuild Illinois roads, bridges and schools. The speaker would not support it, in large part because he doesn't trust the governor.

"We should pass it in the House and stop the finger pointing and the bipartisan and partisan bickering," said Rep. Jay Hoffman, (D) Collinsville.

"There's some serious trust issues that members on both sides of the aisle still have that still have not been addressed," said Il. Rep. David Miller, (D) south suburbs.

On the budget and capital bills, Madigan said Thursday he doesn't see any point in trying to negotiate personally with the governor for whom he has an admitted personal dislike.

"I know the governor is serious in what he does. I know that. It's just a question where I disagree with his methods," Madigan said.

While the House next week may suggest changes to the governor's spending plan, technically speaking, Illinois does have a balanced budget. That means the state can write paychecks and pay its employees. If the House does recommend changes, the governor is not bound, however, to accept those changes.


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