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Senate adds $431M to Illinois budget

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SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Senate on Monday added $431 million to the Illinois House's proposed budget, the day before the General Assembly is set to end its spring session.

By Andrew Thomason

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Senate on Monday added $431 million to the Illinois House's proposed budget, the day before the General Assembly is set to end its spring session.

"We've looked at the budget, and we've determined that there are essential priorities for the people of Illinois, whether it be education (or) human services. We've determined to include them in the budget," said state Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Park Ridge.

The Senate restored cuts the House made to Gov. Pat Quinn's budget by a vote of 35-24

The biggest portion — $151 million — would fund elementary and high schools statewide. Another large portion — $49.3 million — would go to mental health grants and programs.

Senate Republicans strongly opposed adding more spending to what they call an overinflated budget that would harm the state.

"We all care for the people in our district. We care for every school, every hospital, every constituent. We care for them. But if we really care for them, let's just tell them the truth. We don't have the money right now," said state Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon.

The additions would be paid for with money from the general revenue fund, the state's biggest pot of money. The Senate estimates the state will deposit $34.3 billion into the fund during the next fiscal year in tax revenue, including the income and sales tax.

The measure now goes to the House for approval where its future is uncertain. Kotowski said he tied the additional spending to a measure appropriating funds for the state's capital program, including roadwork and building construction, to pressure the House to vote for his plan.

The vote for extra spending came immediately before the state Senate approved the state House's $33.2 billion budget with only Democratic votes. The budget passed the House in early May with broad Republican and Democratic support.

Originally, the Senate passed a $34.3 billion budget, $1.1 billion more than the House's version.

Senate Democrats eventually passed the House's budget despite Republican opposition. The spending plan, approved by both chambers, isn't small enough to pay off the state's debt quickly enough to allow a temporary income tax increase to expire in 2014, according to Senate Republicans.

The budget is smaller than Quinn's original proposal of $35.4 billion. The governor could sign the budget into law, veto the entire budget or change individual lines of spending.

"We continue to review the budget bills passed by the House and Senate," said Kelly Kraft, Quinn's budget spokeswoman.

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