AP News

Ill. legislation limits state spending to $35K


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois lawmakers are trying to keep a lid on spending, but the wording in a budget-plan decree they approved would allow only $35,000 to run the entire state government for a year.

The language was included in a resolution the House adopted Tuesday intended to draw a financial line in the sand ahead of Gov. Pat Quinn's address laying out his proposed budget.

The legislation sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan intended to say the limit is $35.081 billion. Instead, it says $35,081.

Taken literally, the money would provide a mere 56 seconds of public education for kids in kindergarten through 12th grade rather than pay for 2 million students to attend school for a full year.

It would mean the governor, who's entitled to an annual salary of $177,412, would stop receiving a paycheck after less than 67 days.

Steve Brown, spokesman for Madigan, a Chicago Democrat, said there no need to change the language because it's clear the House didn't intend to restrain government by quite that much.

"People recognize the intent, but beyond that, I don't have any other explanation," Brown said.

The measure moves to the Senate for concurrence. Rikeesha Phelon, the Senate Democrats' spokeswoman, pointed out that a similar resolution that both Houses adopted last spring also failed to carrying the traditional caveat explaining numbers were "in millions," literally limiting spending for this year's budget to $33,719.

"That said, they (House) should've clarified numbers are expressed in millions," said Phelon, who did not respond to a question about whether the Senate would change the language.

Quinn's office has said he wants to spend $35.6 billion in the budget year that begins July 1. The House would slice that by about 1 percent, or $519 million.

The resolution spells out how much lawmakers expect will be available in the so-called general revenue fund, which finances day-to-day operations. Without the explainer, it indicates, for example, that revenue from personal income taxes should be $15,986, instead of $15.9 billion.

Brown pointed out two other resolutions of the type that expressed figures in different ways, but both of those reflect, in one way or another, the entire amount intended.

One was from 2011, almost identical in format to the current one, which introduces a chart of numbers with, "as expressed in millions of dollars." The other, from March 2012, alerts appropriations committees to how much money is available. In that one, the numbers are spelled out — for example, "Medicaid — $6,638,953,200."

"The intent is the same regardless of how it's written and it's been written a variety of ways," Brown said.

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The resolution is HJR17.

Online: http://www.ilga.gov

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Contact AP Political Writer John O'Connor at https://www.twitter.com/apoconnor


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