Capitol Notebook: Budget debate shows no signs of resolution
Capitol Notebook for the week ending July 11.
Play of the Week
Faced with what he said was a $2 billion hole in the state budget covering the fiscal year that began July 1, Gov. Rod Blagojevich made $1.4 billion in cuts late Wednesday to ease the problem.
Blagojevich had called lawmakers into special session on Wednesday and Thursday in the hopes that the House of Representatives would pass revenue-generating measures to balance the budget.
But by the end of the day Thursday, the House had not passed any of those bills. Even so, House members are due back in Springfield next week to restore some of the budget cuts - a move that will also require the Senate's cooperation, which looks unlikely.
The House spent much of Thursday engaged in lengthy debate over a proposal to expand the state's gambling industry, largely through the establishment of three new casinos, including one in Chicago. Rep. Robert Molaro, D-Chicago, was the measure's sponsor, which usually means he's the idea's chief supporter.
Supporters of the idea said more gambling would generate substantial revenues to help pay for a long-stalled statewide capital construction program. Critics pointed out various problems, not the least of which was Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's opposition to the particulars of the proposal.
Eventually, House members voted down the measure, 47-55.
In an odd twist, Molaro did not support his own proposal. Just before the vote was taken, Molaro told his colleagues that sending the legislation to the governor would be irresponsible. Urging lawmakers to vote no or present, he took his own advice and punched in as "present."
Quote of Note
"I want to see some work today, see what it looked like," state Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, said on Wednesday when he strayed from the floor of the Illinois Senate to check out a "committee of the whole" hearing in the House. The Senate met but took no action that day.
Number to Know
$1.33 billion. That's the amount of child support the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services collected on behalf of Illinois kids during the fiscal year that ended June 30, according to the governor's office. By comparison, $1.22 billion was collected during the previous fiscal year.
The Illinois House returns to the State Capitol on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to consider restoring budget cuts that Blagojevich made. The Senate presently is not scheduled to be in Springfield until the six-day veto session in mid-November.
State Capitol bureau