St. Louis Public Radio News
1:40 pm
Tue February 18, 2003

Budget Woes: More Talk of Cuts in Mo. & Ill.

Jefferson City, Mo & Springfield, Ill. – Cuts, cuts and more cuts. It's been a familiar theme so far this year in both Jefferson City, Mo. and Springfield, Ill.

MISSOURI

On Monday, the chair of a key Missouri budget committee told lawmakers he wants to find even more cuts than what the governor is proposing.

Representative Carl Bearden, who chairs the House Budget Committee, asked his subcommittees to come up with about $300 million more in cuts. Assuming there are no tax hikes, that would still leave the state about $450 million short of balancing the budget for the fiscal year that begins July First.

The cuts discussed Monday have nothing to do with the current fiscal year's budget, which is also out of balance.

ILLINOIS

In Illinois, the Blagojevich administration may reduce the state budget deficit by raising fees and cutting back on the Illinois FIRST construction program.

The governor's budget director said Monday another option is to keep the state version of the inheritance tax even though the federal tax is being eliminated. John Filan added higher income and sales taxes are not an option but almost everything else is on the table.

He says many fees do not generate enough money to pay for services. Higher fees for medical licenses or other state services might be one way to trim the deficit.

Filan also says the state could save money by canceling many of the Illinois FIRST projects planned for next year. That would put off the need to take out loans on those projects that would create even more financial hardship down the road.