By Benjamin Yount, Illinois Statehouse News
The differences between Illinois' 2011 budget and the still-to-be crafted 2012 budget are becoming more apparent each day. Lawmakers in the House and Senate are working on their own versions of a spending plan, complete with revenue projections and line-by-line appropriations. It's not clear which chamber will set the final total for a state budget, and that may not become clear for a while.
This week, Senate Republicans said they are hoping to work with the Democrats who control the upper chamber in Springfield to figure out how to spend a little more than $34 billion. The House budget figure is just above $33 billion. Gov. Pat Quinn wants to spend $35 billion next year.
Senate GOP budget point man State Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine, said just having a conversation about spending and different numbers is a break from the past. "This process feels a little different," he said. "We've got some new players involved from years past, so I don't know that the past is predictive of how this year is going to go."
Lawmakers have sent Quinn lump sum budgets in each of the past two years. The governor has then decided where to spend the money, and more to the point, where not to spend the money.
State Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, is leading the revenue process in the House. He said lawmakers and the governor need to know how this year's budget process is different.
"I want people to understand that I am serious about revenue projections and the appropriation process," he said.
Lawmakers have scheduled a spring break for later this month. The House and Senate are due to return to the Capitol, at least five days a week, through May as legislators push toward a budget agreement.
You can read Ben's full report at: http://illinois.statehousenewsonline.com/5649/gop-budgeteer-this-year-is-different/