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Lawmakers want to limit spending to $35,000

Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 8:30 p.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD (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 that was intended to draw a financial line in the sand ahead of Gov. Pat Quinn's address laying out his proposed budget.

The blueprint the Democratic governor offered Wednesday proposes spending $35.6 billion in general operating funds in the fiscal year that begins July 1. The House would slice that by about 1 percent, or $519 million.

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

Taken literally, the money would provide a mere 56 seconds of public education for 2 million kids in kindergarten through 12th grade rather than pay for them to attend classes 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's no need to change the language because it's clear the House doesn't want to restrain government by quite that much.

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

A similar resolution that both houses adopted last spring also failed to carry the traditional caveat explaining numbers were "in millions," literally limiting spending for the current budget to $33,719. But other expenditure pronouncements in the past two years have made clear the actual amounts intended.

The measure moves to the Senate. Rikeesha Phelon, the Senate Democrats' spokeswoman, said the House "should've clarified" what numbers are intended, but did not respond to a question about whether the Senate would change the language.

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.

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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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