Congratulations, Illinois. It's A Budget!
By Marcus Gilmer in News on Jul 16, 2009 2:40PM
After a lot of hootin' and hollerin', it's finally done: we have a state budget. And one without an income tax hike. But with the state facing somewhere in the neighborhood of a $9 billion budget gap, how will the state actually manage to make ends meet? In a word: borrowing. The $26 billion spending plan depends on borrowing $3.5 billion to pay state worker pensions and around $3.2 billion in bills is pushed off to next year's budget, but the move means that most of the state services that were on the brink of getting cut will now remain. For now, anyway, as Gov. Quinn has the option to cut any additional money as he sees fit. Still, Quinn said the budget still puts the state between $4 billion and $5 billion down.
Perhaps the biggest issue here is the income tax, which, according to the Tribune, has been put off until early next year. When the issue comes up again, it'll be really close to election time.
Even though an agreement was reached, no one seemed particularly pleased about it. Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) said, "We're doing this because we have to do it. But it's wrong to do it. The General Assembly will reconvene in January to address our need for additional revenue." Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) added, "It's time to cut up our credit card. We've tripled our state's debt." Really, the only person who seemed in any way, shape, or form glad to have it passed was Quinn, who told reporters, "We did tonight something that moved the ball forward for the people of Illinois." Quinn was more tight-lipped when asked about potential layoffs to state workers - he had previously floated the number 2,600 - and if any state facilities would have to be shut down. Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) told the Trib of Quinn, "Essentially by doing this, we have made him the king of Illinois."