Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Senate approves same revenue projection as House

The Illinois Senate today approved a revenue estimate that mirrors one the House approved last week.

Today’s action puts the General Assembly on course to cut from the governor’s proposed spending plan. Both chambers agreed to spend no more than $33.7 billion in Fiscal Year 2013, but Quinn’s budget is based on a $33.9 billion revenue projection.

Last year, the chambers did not agree on an estimate. Senate Democrats favored a revenue projection from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability that was almost $1 billion more than the House’s number. But the House got a jump on the Senate and approved its budget first. In the end, it was the House’s budget that went to Quinn’s desk, although some new spending was tacked on in the legislature's fall veto session.

 “Starting with the same number this year should definitely make it easier to reconcile our budget proposals in the end,” said Park Ridge Democratic Sen. Dan Kotowski, a chairman of one of the chamber's two budgeting committees.

The estimate was approved with overwhelming support. However, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno emphasized that Republicans agree with the $33.7 million figure as an estimate for how much money there will be next fiscal year but do not necessarily agree that all of it should be spent. She said cuts would be needed to allow the income tax increase implemented last year to begin to phase out on schedule in Fiscal Year 2015. “It’s hurting Illinois families, and the jobs climate,” Radogno said.

Quinn takes issue with the lower revenue estimate. “The governor's FY 2013 revenue projections utilized economic forecasts from nationally recognized forecasting firms, with final revenue estimates developed by state agencies using detailed historical tax collection data and employment records,” Kelly Kraft, a spokeswoman for Quinn’s budget office, said in a written statement. “A difference of more than $200 million will lead to even further reductions during a time when many legislators call for cuts, but when cuts are proposed they say, ‘Don't cut here.’”

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