Saturday, February 07, 2009
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Springfield gets back to normal -- sort of

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[February 07, 2009]  SPRINGFIELD -- Lawmakers returned to Springfield this week for the first time following Rod Blagojevich's impeachment trial and began to focus on more usual legislative matters. As with most new legislative sessions, the major activity of the week involved filing proposals for new legislation. In fact, well over 1,000 legislative measures had been filed by week's end.

HardwareIn addition, the top legislative leaders, including Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno, had their first meeting with new Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn.

The looming topic in the General Assembly is likely to be the state budget. A report released during the week by the state comptroller indicated Illinois could face a $9 billion budget hole. While others are skeptical of the exact number, almost no one disputes that Illinois faces a massive budget crisis after six years of overspending and budget gimmicks.

The fiscal 2009 budget hole was made worse because majority Democrats in the legislature decided last year to punt the budget to the governor. They purposely sent then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich an out-of-balance budget and simply trusted the notoriously untrustworthy governor to "manage" the budget.

It's unknown how the new governor will fill the gap, but he has requested an additional month to pull together his fiscal 2010 budget proposal. Quinn now has until March 18 to deliver his first budget address. Republican lawmakers are stressing the need to first scale back programs and halt any expansions.

[Text from file received from the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus]

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