* The House voted unanimously yesterday to pass a very important item…
The House approved two resolutions, both of which say that the House believes there will be just less than $34.5 billion in revenue available to spend in the fiscal year that starts July 1.
That is about $1 billion less than what lawmakers thought would be available last year when they set about crafting the current state budget.
* Senate President John Cullerton’s earlier projection didn’t include additional spending pressures…
State Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, said the figure is a “cautious” estimate that does not take into account any possible savings from changes the General Assembly made to the state’s employee pension systems.
The pension overhaul currently is being challenged in court.
Lawmakers are ramping up their budget talks without input from Gov. Pat Quinn. The Chicago Democrat had been scheduled to introduce his budget blueprint last week, but postponed the plan until after the March 18 primary election.
Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, predicted tough budget times in a recent speech, suggesting that the rollback of the tax hike combined with rising costs for a number of key state programs could create a $3 billion hole, leaving little money for new programs or to pay down a nagging pile of unpaid bills.
In recent years, lawmakers have generally stuck to the spending number approved by the House when creating the budget.
The Governor’s Budget Office projects a revenue amount that is larger than the House’s number by $705 million. However, legislators said they are encouraged that Gov. Pat Quinn’s number is close to theirs. “And I want to compliment the governor’s office because their numbers were very similar to the COGFA numbers this time, and I find that very heartening because a lot of other times, they have been very far apart,” said Democratic Rep. Jack Franks of Marengo.
While Republicans joined in establishing the spending cap for fiscal year 2015, which begins July 1, they insisted their votes did not endorse anything beyond that estimate.
Rep. Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, said he thought the revenue estimate was a “responsible number” but that it “doesn’t mean we’re supporting the budget.”