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Illinois House OKs debt-heavy budget

By Amanda Vinicky, Illinois Public Radio

Springfield, Ill. – Illinois is finally on its way to having a new budget. On Tuesday night the House approved a spending plan that relies heavily on borrowing and pushing off payment of many bills.

Governor Pat Quinn's calls for a tax increase to help stem Illinois' growing deficit were dashed; his proposal was never even called for a vote. But the drastic cuts to schools he had threatened won't happen either.

Most of the legislation related to the budget has won House and Senate approval. That includes marginal cuts to agencies and programs, reductions in legislators' pay and rebidding many state contracts.

It took several tries, but the House narrowly agreed to borrow to make a $4 billion payment to the state's public pension systems.

Rock Island Democratic Representative Pat Verschoore said it's not a good solution, but it's the best given the state's options.

"That's basically what we have been doing for the past few years, is pushing things out and thinking things are going to get better," Verschoore said. "And hopefully things will get better, but I still think we're going to have some tough years ahead of us yet."

It will be up to Governor Pat Quinn to direct the situation. The legislature gave little direction on how money should be spent, and instead is granting Quinn the power to make cuts.