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Flat state budget draws criticism

The Illinois State House of Representatives and state Senate passed a fiscal year 2015 budget that is being criticized by both state Republicans and Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.

The $35.7 billion budget, which is awaiting Quinn's signature for approval, does not extend the 2011 tax increase.

Though he made no indication on whether he would approve the budget, Quinn said in a statement that it was an incomplete budget that postpones tough decisions on paying down the state's bills.

"I will work to minimize the impact of cuts in vital services while continuing to cut waste and maintain our hard-won fiscal gains," he said.

State Sen. Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, said in a news release that this budget would only exacerbate Illinois' budget problems.

“Despite spending much of the spring warning of draconian, even dangerous cuts that would place education, human services, and public safety in jeopardy unless a tax hike was passed, after failing to secure the votes needed to make their 2011 ‘temporary’ tax hike permanent, this budget was patched together without a tax increase,” she said in the release.

State Rep. Deb Conroy, D-Villa Park, voted in favor of the budget.

"Because the Republicans weren't willing to negotiate and come up with alternatives, I feel like the only option that we had was to do a flat budget," she said.

State Rep. Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, the minority leader in the House, said the Republicans had proposed a $34.5 billion budget that would not include the 2011 tax increase and stayed with that.

“The good news is that the taxpayers have been spared from higher taxes for now,” Durkin said in a news release. “Unfortunately, the irresponsible budget passed by Democrats last week is a step backward from our efforts to get Illinois’ fiscal house in order."

Conroy said it will be important for members of the state legislature to have honest discussions with their constituents on what needs to be done with the budget moving forward.

"There are going to be tough decisions that need to be made," she said.

Radogno, the minority leader in the Senate, said the Democrats in the General Assembly will likely try to revive the income tax increase during the lame duck session following the November election.

“Outgoing lawmakers, who are no longer accountable to the voters, should not be approving such controversial legislation, especially tax increases,” she said in a release.

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