State Budget Summit

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Before lawmakers head back to Springfield to begin next year's budget talks, where state funds should be spent was on the minds of many Monday night at the Zeke Giorgi building.

The summit began with lawmakers explaining the different factors like increased Medicare spending that has Illinois in its current budget crisis.

During public comments, citizens pleaded with lawmakers to reform how school districts are funded and operated across the state. Other hot topics were concerns about the new tollway rates for truck drivers and ways to better promote the Greater Rockford Airport.

State tourism leaders also emphasized the importance of their industry in spurring development and adding new dollars.

"We urge you to continue to support parks, recreation and the hospitality industry. We cannot do it alone," Rockford Park District's Nate Martin said.

"This airport can carry 1.6 million passengers. That's important to me, that brings dollars, that keeps quality of life within my own community. This is one of your major resources. Don't overlook it," Ogle County Economic Development's Lynne Kilker said.

The budget summit is one of 26 that are scheduled in the coming weeks. State lawmakers hope to finalize a balanced budget before they're scheduled to adjourn at the end of May.