Ill. lawmakers adjourn without passing a budget

May 8, 2010 Legislative leaders sent lawmakers home until they could figure out a solution to the state's $13-billion deficit.

Governor Quinn says, however, he thinks an agreement on a budget is near. He tried to focus Saturday on what did get done in Springfield, while also taking a shot at his Republican rival.

The budgetary meltdown came as Democrats held to their self-imposed May 7 spring adjournment date, after they were unable to agree on the right combination of tax increases, cuts, and borrowing to solve Illinois' financial woes.

"The way the proposals were presented to us had some secrecy, and not sure exactly what's being cut and what we needed to try to do in order to provide clarity toward our budgetary process," Democratic State Rep. David Miller, who represents Chicago's south suburbs, said.

Not even powerful House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate Pres. John Collerton could get their members -- who hold a significant majority in both houses-- behind their plan, which practically eliminated the requirement to make an automatic $3.8 billion payment into the state's public pension systems.

The Senate passed the $57-billion spending measure.

"There is a real reluctance from Democrats in charge right now to say, 'Hey, we're sorry. You've got a decent program, but we don't have the money for it,'" said Republican Illinois State Sen. Matt Murphy.

The budget impass has increased tensions in the race for governor, as the Governor Quinn and the Republican nominee blame each other.

"There is an effort by the Republican candidate for governor to try to cause chaos. He went over to the House and told Republicans to vote 'no' on everything. I don't think that's good for Illinois," Quinn said.

"I'm pleased it didn't pass. It was a bad budget. I think it does show incompetence on the part of the governor," Republican nominee in the race for governor Bill Brady said via telephone.

Laurence Msall, of the government watchdog group The Civic Federation of Chicago, says lawmakers have to get serious about addressing the state's financial problems and can't borrow the deficit away.

"Proposals to gut education or proposals to take money away from local schools-- I mean, local governments -- are not serious proposals if, when you offer them, you say, 'But if you pass a tax increase, we won't have to make those cuts.' We need a real plan," said Msall.

Illinois lawmakers must try to agree on a budget by May 31, the real legislative deadline. After that, passing a budget would require the Democrats to have some Republican support to take action.

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