Illinois Lawmakers React to New State Budget

By: Brad Broders
By: Brad Broders

The state's new budget is signed and ready to go. On Sunday the state's Speaker of the House, who went against the governor in his own party on many issues, talked about the budget's successes and why Rockford citizens should be happy.

Lawmakers have agreed on a new $45.5 billion budget. Despite jumping party lines on several issues, Speaker of the House Mike Madigan says the state is better off with a budget that spends only as much as it brings in.

"The fiscal integrity of this state is more important than a political party and the fiscal integrity of this state was in trouble," Madigan said.

Early indications show Rockford coming out well. The city kept its funding for Rock Valley College and important road projects including Highway 173 are likely to be top state considerations come November.

"We've got five projects that are right at the top of the list and we intend to see those projects in the next year to two years they will make that top list and get done," Jefferson said.

But not everything for Rockford hit the jackpot. Some city leaders are still holding out for a riverboat casino license. Madigan, however, gave no guarantees slot machines could hit the Rock River anytime soon.

"Rockford would be a good location. It would qualify in terms of economic criteria, but what might come out of the legislature is pretty questionable," Madigan said.

Jefferson says based on needed job growth he'll push hard for the casinos when the legislature meets up again in November.

"Even though I think Rockford is on the uprise, we could use a riverboat to help get some of the revenue we are so in desperate need of," Jefferson said.

And though it took nearly two months to finally get done, lawmakers are happy the budget is without heavy borrowing and without a spike in taxes.

"I think the fact we came out with a good budget, a balanced budget that we all feel good about. We didn't raise taxes, we didn't add income taxes, so I think the public has to feel good about that," Jefferson said.

But it remains to be seen if the issues left unresolved will get any farther come November.


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