Current budget battle involves length of plan

Published 02/25 2014 04:10PM

Updated 02/25 2014 06:15PM

SPRINGFIELD -- Lawmakers say figuring out next year's budget is going to be their biggest challenge this spring. But, one idea could make it a little easier. WCIA-3's Ashley Michels keeps us Connected to the Capitol.

There's an idea floating around the capitol to pass a six-month budget, then deal with funding for the second half of the year later. But, it's getting mixed reviews.

Passing a budget is always at the top of lawmakers' to-do list each spring. The multi-billion dollar blueprint sets how every Illinois' penny is spent. Getting 100 people to agree on the same plan isn't an easy task.

"You've got basically two months to come up with something by May 31st. It makes it very, very hard to do."

But this year, there's a wrinkle. Halfway through the year, the state's temporary income tax expires. Lawmakers are at odd about how to move forward.

If it's left as-is, we will have about $2 billion less to work with the second half of the year. That's why some are suggesting a six-month budget instead, so there's more time to decide what to do. But lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are skeptical.

"It would bring more uncertainty to school districts which we don't need today. I think it would inject more uncertainty into the lives of state employees. I think it would just leave too many questions unanswered."

"You've got to put a full-year document together even if later you have to come back and do a supplement or tweak it."

A half-year budget would also likely push back tough decisions until after the November election. It's something Senator Chapin Rose (R) says is unethical and unfair to taxpayers.

"To say we're only going to tell you half the year and then wait until the election is over to do the other half? Come on. That doesn't pass the smell test."

Governor Quinn was supposed to give his annual budget speech last week, but it was pushed back until next month. State Senator Andy Manar (D) says he does not expect Quinn to go with a six-month plan.

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