Governor Pat Quinn, Illinois House Divided over Illinois Budget

(Springfield, IL) — As the Illinois House of Representatives and Gov. Pat Quinn duke it out in the state budget ring, the House is about $3 billion lighter compared to the governor’s spending fund.

From the House’s $33.2 billion fiscal year 2012 budget plan, lawmakers set aside $23.8 billion to fund state agencies and services.

Quinn has a $26.9 billion spending fund for state agencies and services. The governor said the state should not forget about the “fundamental things in life (such as) public safety, health care and education.” He has strongly criticized the House’s projected “radical severe” cuts in education funding.

House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago this week outlined the House budget proposal’s spending — for instance $12 billion for human services and $8.9 billion for education. The Quinn administration, meanwhile, would hand out $12.9 billion to human services and $9.5 billion to education.

Stephen Schnorf, who was a budget director for former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, said it’s normal for the General Assembly and the governor to bump heads when the budget deadline, May 31, is nearing.

“Passage of a budget is a test of wills — healthy tension between the General Assembly and the governor,” Schnorf said. “The governor proposes the budget, only the General Assembly can pass a budget, only a governor can sign and veto a budget. So this is just the normal beginning of the process.”

The House chamber’s bipartisan effort has visibly been noticeable lately with Madigan and House Republican Leader Tom Cross collaborating on plans for next year’s budget. On Friday, the House unanimously passed budget bills that were sponsored by both House leaders.

Madigan has said that the House isn’t trying to “usurp control from the governor over the budget.”

“We recognize our responsibility to give authority to spend money to the governor, the constitutional officers, the judiciary and the Legislature,” Madigan said. “So we’re going to work through that requirement.”

Schnorf, considered an expert on budgets, said neither lawmakers nor the governor can leave Springfield unless they reach an agreement on both revenues and spending.

Kelly Kraft, spokeswoman for the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, said the governor’s office wants to work with everyone.

“We look forward working with all four caucuses coming up with a budget — that’s the plan,” Kraft said.

Schnorf said the state has spent more than its revenue, and that it seems that the state is well on its way to getting it under control with the recent corporate and personal income tax hikes that would bring in more than $6 billion dollars annually to the budget.

“There will be plenty of posturing, plenty of partisan sniping — but at the end of the day my guess is that the legislators and the governor are going to agree on a budget that’s pretty much in balance for this year.”

Mary J. Cristobal, Illinois Statehouse News

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