$45.8 billion is the final number on the Illinois state budget passed last week, and now that the plan for 2007 is solidified some elected officials are taking credit, while others say not so fast.

In an election year politicians latch onto whatever they believe to be steps in the right direction, while the other side of the fence perceives those same steps to be strides backwards. This is certainly the case with the recent passing of the state budget.

Between the Preschool for All Program and an initiative to help middle class families pay for college, education was a central focus in this year’s budget. The differences in opinion come when you ask whether or not the state can afford these big bill items, and it’s no coincidence that views differ across party lines.

Though the budget was completed behind schedule, legislators fell less than three weeks short of being forced into overtime session.