The governor, facing light opposition in today’s Democratic primary, is preparing his budget message, scheduled for March 26. Lawmakers have already begun hearing from state agencies, not waiting for him.
“I think especially since the days of (former Gov. Rod) Blagojevich – I hate to even bring that name up,” says State Sen. Sam McCann (R-Carlinville), “but I think it’s become almost a necessity, unfortunately.”
Some lawmakers see programs which can be cut. “Look at the money he just funneled up to Chicago for Keep Chicago Safer,” says State Rep. Charlie Meier (R-Okawville), referring to a 2010 expenditure called the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative. “All that money, most of it’s missing now. It wasn’t used for anything but, basically, trying to buy votes.”
Another sees money just waiting to be grabbed up: “We passed legislation last year to get fracking down in Southern Illinois, which would start generating revenue,” says State Rep. Wayne Rosenthal (R-Morrisonville). “We need to get off center and start that process.”
A senator from Gov. Pat Quinn’s own party is looking forward to hearing the ideas. “No. 1 issue is school funding in my district,” says State Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill). “That goes for whether I find myself in an urban neighborhood in Decatur or I find myself in Hillsboro.”
The governor pushed the budget address from February to a week after the primary election. His office says it was to better prepare for the speech, though the political people in Springfield believe it was moved to occur after the primary.