Springfield, ILL – Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich signed most of the state budget into law on Thursday. He used his veto powers to cut $222 million dollars from the spending plan, which he says hopes erase a $5 billion dollar deficit.
The new cuts eliminate all captains in the state's Corrections Department; take $48 million dollars away from the Secretary of State's office; and erase cost-of-living raises for lawmakers, judges and other officials. They will stand unless lawmakers override those cuts.
The governor says the state is in the worst fiscal crisis in its history and calls the budget the product of "many difficult choices."
Democrats and Republicans alike soon weighed in with criticism of many of the governor's budget decisions.
Secretary of State Jesse White, a fellow Democrat, says the governor of bargained in bad faith. He says Blagojevich "cut the legs out from under me" by saying for months that it would be enough for him to have the same budget he had in his office last year (with no increases). Blagojevich then demanded a 7.5% cut the day before the new fiscal year began.
White says his office will have to lay off people and close facilities, which could include DMV facilities where drivers get licenses.
Republican Senator Steve Rauschenberger argues that the budget is balanced (without Blagojevich's last-minute cuts), but only if revenue plans such as selling office buildings or auctioning off a casino license produce the money Blagojevich predicts.
To read the press release from the Governor's office, click here.