General Assembly votes to postpone governor’s budget address
From press release
This week, lawmakers advanced controversial legislation that will postpone the governor’s annual budget message until March 10.
The budget address was originally scheduled for Feb. 17; however, the governor asked for more time, saying that pushing the budget address back will allow him additional time to gather more accurate revenue estimates for the next fiscal year.
Senate Republicans have disputed that contention, noting that delaying the address will do nothing to expedite the budget process and will simply further defer action on the state’s mounting fiscal crisis.
Under the provisions of House Bill 2240, the governor will be required to file a written report to be presented to the General Assembly prior to Feb. 24. Legislators will be allowed to make written budget recommendations to be submitted to the governor between Feb. 24 and March 10, which would then be posted on the governor’s Web site.
Although the legislation was portrayed as encouraging a more open budget process, critics have suggested that the Quinn administration has consistently ignored laws already on the books that were designed to give the public and lawmakers an opportunity to review the state’s finances.
According to Republicans, the Governor’s Office has failed to produce three reports required by new laws passed last spring. Senate Bill 54 requires the governor to post Quarterly Financial Reports on the Internet, which would include an assessment of the state’s financial position and projections of revenue and the Illinois economy. At this point, according to Republicans, the governor has not complied with the new law—the most recent report posted was a review of Fiscal Year 2009, more than six months ago.
Additionally, the governor has not provided mandated Capital Accountability Law Reports, or quarterly reports on the status of all capital projects. House Bill 255 requires this report to be given to party leaders on the first day of each quarter, so the first report should have been disseminated Oct. 1, 2009, with a second report handed out Jan. 1, 2010.
House Bill 255 also requires the governor to post online summaries of financial information given to rating agencies and potential investors. These must be posted on the Internet and given to legislative leaders within 10 business days after the information was given to rating agencies and investors. However, this has not been done.
Critics questioned the effectiveness of passing additional laws when the governor isn’t following those already on the books. This financial information would be extremely helpful when lawmakers prepare to begin working on the Fiscal Year 2011 budget, yet the Quinn administration has yet to comply with the laws.
Despite objections, the legislation received enough votes for passage.
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