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Quinn tweaks budget as he signs it

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SPRINGFIELD — As he promised, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinnhas changed the state's 2012 budget.

By Benjamin Yount

SPRINGFIELD — As he promised, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinnhas changed the state's 2012 budget.

Quinn waited until late Thursday night, the last day of the fiscal year, to sign the 23 pieces of legislation that make up the new spending plan.

But the governor did not just sign the budget sent to him by lawmakers. Instead, he used his amendatory veto powers to change the budget.

Quinn said in a statement that he "reprioritized" the budget.

"I discovered and eliminated double-appropriations by more than $336 million. Next, I reduced bureaucracy costs by more than $11 million," Quinn said in a statement.

Most of the Quinn's $336 million in cuts comes from trimming of $276 million from Medicaid.

Lawmakers said they wanted to avoid cutting the amount the state's Medicaid providers would be paid. Instead, the General Assembly stretched out the payment cycle to more than 100 days.

Quinn did not explain how his cut would be implemented.

School districts also are taking a hit in the budget Quinn signed. The governor has ordered a nearly $90 million trim for school buses statewide and eliminated another $11 million for regional superintendents. The governor had targeted superintendents, but the General Assembly had hoped to spare them.

Illinois' Constitution gives the governor strong power to shape the state budget, but he cannot increase it. He can only cut or amend, under the amendatory veto power.

Quinn has said for weeks that he would like to spend more on education and human services. That may require more money.

Illinois lawmakers now will have to act on Quinn's reductions and line-item vetoes. The General Assembly is due back in October for the fall veto session.

Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly have said they are open to Quinn's goal to spend more on schools and human services.

But Republicans, particularly in the Illinois Senate, are not enthusiastic about calls for more spending.

"I find it astonishing that after a $7 billion tax increase, the Democrats are basing this budget on pushing $1 billion in bills into next year," said state Sen Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale.

Dillard said that instead of spending more, lawmakers should cut more than they did with the new budget, but he doubts that will happen.

"The spending contained in this budget guarantees that the tax increase that Gov Quinn promised was temporary, will become permanent." Dillard said.

Illinois' new fiscal year begins today. Quinn signed the 2012 budget to avoid a state government shutdown.

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