Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What's up (or down) with state spending

Gov. Pat Quinn crafted this year's state budget with nearly unfettered power to spend taxpayer money and cut programs as he saw fit.

The unprecedented authority led Quinn and his aides to spend weeks deciding what to slice and what to spare, knowing that each move will be examined carefully under the magnifying glass of the governor campaign.

That fact was not lost on lawmakers, who historically have set strict spending limits, divvying up dollars in increments as small as $100. They were quick to cede one of their chief responsibilities to Quinn for the second year in a row after being unwilling to raise taxes or make cuts ahead of the November election.

"They (shoveled) it all to Quinn and (said) 'Here, it's your job to try to figure out how to pay $10 worth of expenses with this $5 bill that we've given you,'" said Charles N. Wheeler III, a state government and journalism expert at the University of Illinois-Springfield. "They are pretty much saying if it's him going down in flames for this or me going down in flames, adios Pat Quinn."

Wheeler's comments were featured in a July 6, 2010, article in the Chicago Tribune.

Download a PDF of the article