A key part of the state budgeting process is underway today in Springfield. The Revenue Committee of the Illinois House adopted what it thinks will be the bottom line spending number for Illinois in the coming fiscal year. Representative John Bradley, a Democrat from Marion, is chairman of the committee. He says Illinois will have about 34-and-a-half-billion dollars to spend next year:
"Let me repeat that: $34.495 billion."
That's significant in several ways. It's about a billion less than last year's number, which means lawmakers are going to have extend the tax increase or find other sources of money, or they'll have to make a lot of cuts. On the other hand, it's not as bad as some people had feared. The House revenue estimate is important because it's been the dominant number in state budgeting in recent years. Governor Pat Quinn, who delayed unveiling his own budget proposal until late next month, doesn't have to use the House estimate, but Bradley says the governor would be "well served to abide by that number.":
"He's not had good luck going against it in the past. *laughs*"
The governor's budget address is March 26.
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