Local lawmakers vote against budget address delay

By Nick Kovatch on February 5 at 7:17am

Local state legislators voted against a bill which would allow Governor Quinn to delay the unveiling of his state budget proposal to the end of March.

Lawmakers voted 62-48 yesterday to pass the measure moving the annual budget speech from February 19th to March 26th. That puts the speech after the March 18th primary election.

Jacksonville State Representative C. D. Davidsmeyer.

“My biggest concern is that we’ve got some of the toughest decisions that we’ve ever had to make and we’re going to have a lot less time to actually make them now that they’ve pushed that budget address back to the end of March,” says Davidsmyer. “Plus, our schools have to make major budget decisions by the end of March and we’re giving them little to no guidance on how to make their budget decisions.”

Cass County State Rep Norine Hammond says the delay disrupts the legislative process and reduces the time available for committee hearings, public input and other scrutiny of the $35 billion state budget.

“It is unheard of that we as members of this body should have to wait until the end of March to hear from our governor on the state of the budget,” says Hammond. “But more importantly, the fact that we are asking our human service providers, our schools, our universities and every area within the state of Illinois budget to wait until the end of March is incredible.”

But Democrats, including House Speaker Michael Madigan, say Quinn needs more time. Madigan says lawmakers will begin their own budgeting in the meantime.

Quinn plans to outline a five-year spending blueprint. He must also wrestle with the expiration of a temporary income tax hike halfway through the fiscal year.

The measure now heads to the state Senate.