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Solutions to Illinois budget still in limbo a day before adjournment

By Illinois Public Radio/St. Louis Public Radio

Springfield, IL – Illinois's plans to close a $13 billion deficit are still unclear, a day before lawmakers are scheduled to leave Springfield.

Budget director David Vaught urged lawmakers on Wednesday to approve a measure that would allow the state to borrow the $4 billion it needs to make payments into the retiree pension system.

"This bill is about cash," he said. "We don't have any. So we'd like to issue bonds and sell some bonds to pay the pension funds."

But Republicans are reluctant to support any more borrowing, and bonding issues need 3/5 majorities to pass in the House and Senate. Democrats hold that majority in the Senate, but not in the House.

Gov. Pat Quinn's proposed income tax hike for education funding also appears dead, though he said he will consider a cigarette tax increase of up to $1 if the money is directed to education. And Commonwealth Edison has withdrawn an offer that would have offered the state $500 million cash up front in exchange for less regulation. Both Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the Citizens Utility Board were opposed, saying it would lock customers into electric rates higher than the market price. ComEd denied that assertion.

Some budget components are moving. The Senate is drafting a measure that would give Quinn the power to make cuts to a finished budget without the express approval of lawmakers, and a House committee has approved a plan that exempts delinquent taxpayers from penalties if they pay up now.


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