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Quinn to veto budget? Not likely

Cross offers doubtful advice for governor

Published: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, July 22, 2014 8:14 a.m. CDT

The Republican candidate for state treasurer, state Rep. Tom Cross of Oswego, has a suggestion for Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.

In a news release from his treasurer's campaign last week, Cross sent a letter to Quinn in which he “strongly” urged the governor to veto what Cross said is an “unbalanced and irresponsible” spending plan.

He also said that if he is elected treasurer, his first act will be to go to court to ask that the budget be declared unconstitutional because it is not balanced.

As a way of underscoring the fact that Cross voted against the much-criticized budget while his opponent, Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, voted for it, OK. As a practical matter, not so much.

Quinn's options for dealing with the budget are pretty limited. A total veto, of course, would be out of the question. An override would require all 71 House Democrats to be on the same page, something they haven't shown all spring. Without an override, it would mean reopening the budget and whacking even more of it.

And the GOP? They didn't vote for the doomsday budget, and they didn't vote for the approved budget. And they haven't presented anything like a detailed alternative that shows how a proper spending plan (in their view) should be put together. It's like Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner's concept adopted by 47 representatives.

Quinn may be left with accepting the assessment of state Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, who said lawmakers did the best they could with the budget, considering that everyone was against everything.

Counterpunch to Cross

Frerichs offered his own counterpunch to Cross.

In a campaign news release, Frerichs said he voted for the budget because it preserves funding for vital areas such as education, health care, and so on.

However, to blunt any criticism of his budget vote, Frerichs said he won't pocket the extra money lawmakers will get next year by ending their unpaid furlough days. That's at least $3,100 for each lawmaker.

Wanna bet others follow suit?

Speedy Senate

Belated credit to the Illinois Senate for showing that the General Assembly can act quickly when it wants to.

We have to go back to May 30. By early evening, the House had finished its work for the spring and was gone. The Senate, however, still had some business to tend to, including a vote on the new $1 billion capital plan for roads and bridges.

The problem for the Senate, though, was that the capital plan could not be voted on until the next day. Pesky thing, that Illinois Constitution.

By around 10:30 p.m., the Senate had finished work on everything except the capital bill. The last thing senators wanted to do was adjourn for the night and have to reassemble the next day to vote on just one bill. That was a bill, incidentally, that had strong support from lawmakers in both parties.

Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, jokingly suggested the state could join the Eastern Time Zone for an hour to dispense with the capital bill. He then adjourned the Senate and told lawmakers to return at midnight so they could vote on the capital plan on May 31.

Now, on most occasions, the starting times for floor sessions of the House and Senate are more suggestions than an indication everyone will be in place and ready to start working. Not so this time.

At about 12:01 a.m., the chamber was gaveled to order. Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Peoria, a retired minister, gave the obligatory prayer to start the session, and away they went. By around 12:11 a.m., the Senate had approved the capital bill and was leaving the building.

By the way, Koehler, as he was about to deliver the prayer, wryly noted there probably hadn't been that many people on hand for an opening prayer since Inauguration Day.

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