SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois House approved a plan Thursday allowing Gov. Pat Quinn to put off his budget speech for an extra three weeks.
The House voted 65-44 to give the governor until March 10 to outline his proposal for keeping the state afloat in the fiscal year beginning July 1. Quinn signed the legislation into law just hours after it reached his desk.
Without the change, the Chicago Democrat would have had to deliver his budget blueprint by next week.
The state faces a budget hole likely exceeding $11 billion and has been unable to pay its bills on time for months. Quinn wants an income tax hike to help close the gap.
House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, said Quinn needed the added time because he has been involved in a bruising election battle against Comptroller Dan Hynes for the Democratic nomination for governor.
Republicans expressed outrage at granting Quinn the added time, saying the dismal condition of state finances demands immediate action.
“The governor has been in the executive office for over a year now,” said state Rep. Roger Eddy, R-Hutsonville.
“The people are getting tired of the games that are being played,” added state Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro. “They want us to get busy — and fix the problem.”
Democrats defended the move because the proposed change also requires Quinn to make detailed budget information available to the public by Feb. 24.
People interested in making suggestions on how to fix the state’s budget problems then will have two weeks to submit their ideas to the governor’s budget office.
Quinn says the new process will make the budget process more “transparent.”
The measure was approved Wednesday in the Senate. The legislation is House Bill 2240.
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