Big issues come and go in Springfield, but the one task facing the General Assembly every year is to build a state budget. The Illinois House is almost done with a $35 billion spending plan, passing a handful of bills Tuesday evening. The only issue left to debate is K-12 education.
The process again drew fire from minority Republicans, who say the controlling Democrats again left them out of the final talks.
“When it comes to spending, the willingness to work with us goes by the wayside,” said House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego). “When this budget is tallied up, and we have an ability to examine it, you will see spending increase by almost $2 billion.”
One of the House appropriations chairmen, State Rep. Fred Crespo (D-Hoffman Estates), protested that characterization, saying Republicans never responded to Democrats’ entreaties. That brought an earthy response from State Rep. Jim Sacia (R-Pecatonica), calling Crespo’s remarks “a load of crap.”
Crespo had some other things to say which are bound to interest union leaders and members, referring to back raises from a contract: “The AFSCME contracts, or anything related to the AFSCME contracts, were not included in our appropriations. The agencies and departments will have to figure out how to fund those,” he said.
House Bills 206, 208, 213, 214, 215 passed the House.