SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois lawmakers are trying to keep a lid on spending, but a drafting error in a budget plan they approved would allow only $35,000 to run the entire state government for a year.
The apparent mistake was included in a resolution the House adopted Tuesday intended to draw a financial line in the sand ahead of Gov. Pat Quinn’s address laying out his proposed budget. House Speaker Michael Madigan intended to say the limit is $35.081 billion. Instead, the legislation says $35,081.
Taken literally, the money would provide a mere 56 seconds of public education for kids in kindergarten through 12th grade rather than pay for 2 million students to attend school for a full year.
It would mean the governor, who’s entitled to an annual salary of $177,412, would stop receiving a paycheck after less than 67 days.
Steve Brown, spokesman for Madigan, a Chicago Democrat, said there is no need to change the language because it’s clear the House didn’t intend to restrain government by quite that much.
“People recognize the intent, but beyond that, I don’t have any other explanation,” Brown said.
Quinn’s office has said he wants to spend $35.6 billion in the budget year that begins July 1. The House would slice that by about 1 percent, or $519 million.
The resolution spells out how much it expects will be available in the so-called general revenue fund, which finances day-to-day operations. Typically, such a list would indicate that the numbers are “in millions,” but this legislation does not.
So, it indicates, for example, that revenue from personal income taxes should be $15,986, instead of $15.9 billion.
The resolution is headed for the Senate, where Rikeesha Phelon, spokeswoman for the Democrats, said it wasn’t immediately clear whether changes to the language would be in order.
Brown pointed out similar resolutions that express the figures in different ways, but both of those reflect, in one way or another, the entire amount intended.
One was from 2011, almost identical in format to the current one, which introduces a chart of numbers with, “as expressed in millions of dollars,” and one from March 2012 that alerts appropriations committees to how much money is available. In that one, the numbers are spelled out — for example, “Medicaid — $6,638,953,200.”
“The intent is the same regardless of how it’s written and it’s been written a variety of ways,” Brown said.
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