Quinn says Senate will be back by month's end to finish budget package

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn today predicted lawmakers will return to the Capitol by the end of June to vote on borrowing about $4 billion to make next year's state worker pension payment, the final piece of a patchwork budget aimed at keeping state government operating until after the November election.
But a spokeswoman for Democratic Senate President John Cullerton said it's still unclear when lawmakers would return, and suggested that Quinn must work to build support for his borrowing plan among Senate Republicans before members would be called back to Springfield.
Lawmakers were scheduled to finish crafting a spending package last week, but the Democrat-controlled Senate left without voting on Quinn's borrowing plan. Without the borrowing, Quinn would be forced to make massive cuts to state programs or skip the payment altogether.
"We have one more thing to do," Quinn said after an appearance at a North Side elementary school to sign education legislation. "We have to get the Senate back to Springfield, hopefully sooner rather than later, to approve what the House has already approved."
The proposal stalled in the Senate when at least two Democratic members said they would not support the plan because it does not directly address Illinois' money problems, but only adds to the state's growing debt.
Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon said today that it remains to be seen when the Senate will come back to Springfield.
"We need to see evidence that the governor is effectively making the case for pension borrowing - specific evidence being at least two Senate Republican votes," Phelon said.
Cullerton holds a veto-proof majority in the Senate, but could not muster his members to approve the borrowing plan.
Quinn said he was "optimistic we'll get there," despite an earlier jab at lawmakers for failing to pass an income tax he says is needed to generate more revenue for the state. That measure passed the Senate, but has stalled in the House.
"The bottom line is the legislators this year and last year I think disappointed me and I think disappointed the people of Illinois by their reluctance to squarely address the fiscal calamity that we're in," Quinn said. "This goes for both parties, both houses. I think they should have done a lot better. But having said that, we have to go forward and carry on for the people of Illinois."