The bulk of a new state budget passed out of the Illinois House Tuesday, and now heads to the Senate. It’s far less harsh than lawmakers had been predicting at the start of the legislative session.
When he presented his budget back in March, Governor Pat Quinn referred to it as his most difficult.
He warned that pension costs were eating up money for other causes.
But higher-than-expected revenues came into state coffers last month, freeing up enough money to the point that Democratic Rep. Greg Harris says while many human service programs will be cut, it’s only by one-percent. Others won’t be at all.
HARRIS: “We kept level funding for child care, we increased money for AIDS and breast and cervical cancer, meals on wheels for seniors. So I think we did a good job in protecting the most frail and vulnerable, but at the same time paying down old bills and bringing in more federal money.”
Even though they agreed with some of the spending proposals, Republicans voted “no.” Rep. Dennis Reboletti of Elmhurst says they were shut out of budget-making decisions.
REBOLETTI: “I learned that the Senate Democrats and the House Democrats struck a deal on the budget, not from our members that usually participate. I learned it on public radio. Isn’t that a travesty when we deal with this budgetary process?”
The GOP also fears Democrats are spending the extra money, when it should go toward paying overdue bills.
– Amanda Vinicky