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Blagojevich signs state budget into law

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By AP/KWMU

Springfield, Ill. – Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich Monday signed a new budget for state government for the new fiscal year, starting July 1.

The budget increases state spending by about $1.4 billion, a 4.8% jump.

The $56 billion budget includes more money for schools, health care and other social services. Critics, though, point out that it also includes hundreds of millions of dollars in lump sums that can be doled out for lawmakers' pet projects.

The Democratic governor negotiated the budget with Democratic lawmakers; Republicans were shut out of negotiations and all GOP Senators and Representatives voted against the budget.

A key part of the budget deal was cutting annual payments to state pension systems by about $1.1 billion.

SEARCH ENGINE CHANGE

In other state government news, Google now is taking over searching capabilities on the Illinois General Assembly's Web site.

The switch from a Microsoft-based search engine to a Google-based one occurred last week.

The General Assembly Web site search engine sifts through thousands of pieces of legislation that are introduced each year by the state's legislators. Along with viewing legislation, users can track where proposed laws are in the legislative process and search previous General Assemblies.

Tim Rice, executive director for the Legislative Information System, says other states including Virginia, Massachusetts, Kentucky and Kansas also use Google-based search engines on their state Web sites.

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