SPRINGFIELD — Facing a dire budget situation, Gov. Pat Quinn has been lobbying lawmakers for months to give him more time to craft a state budget.
On Wednesday, Democrats who control the Illinois Senate pushed through a proposal that would give him three additional weeks to crunch, massage and work out the numbers.
The measure was approved 31-21. All Republicans voted “no,” arguing that Quinn shouldn’t get extra time since the state’s budget woes already are well-documented and should be addressed “sooner rather than later.”
“I think it’s a little foolhardy to move this back into March,” said state Sen. Brad Burzynski, R-Clare.
In giving Quinn extra time, Democrats also added a new wrinkle to the often byzantine budgeting process that has left Illinois government teetering on the edge of an $11 billion hole.
Now, instead of launching the budget-writing process after the governor’s speech March 10, Quinn will be required to post an online outline of the state’s financial details two weeks before he takes the stage.
The numbers will give Illinois residents an opportunity to review and chime in on the state’s finances, supporters said.
“A budget that reflects input from the people of Illinois will be a better budget for the people of Illinois,” Quinn wrote in a letter to lawmakers.
Republicans said Quinn already has the ability to make budget numbers widely available to the public. Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, called the move “window-dressing” to hide that the governor was supposed to outline his budget next week, not next month.
“We ought to have the budget address when it was scheduled,” Radogno said.
Cullerton said the partisanship on the issue indicates the legislative session may be a raucous, sniping affair in the coming months as the two parties parry for votes heading into November.
“This does not bode well for the rest of the year,” he said.
The measure now moves to the House for further action.
The legislation is House Bill 2240.
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