Protracted budget dispute produces positives for prison workers, state colleges and business
Fifty-four days and 17 special sessions after its scheduled May 31 adjournment date, the Illinois General Assembly approved a $45.5 billion state budget for the fiscal year that began July 1.
The budget boosts K-12 education by $364 million, closes no state facilities and cuts funding for most state agencies.
The record-breaking overtime session came after Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Senate President Emil Jones failed to get House Speaker Michael Madigan to support a spending plan that relied on $300 million in business tax increases.
The impasse among the three Chicago Democrats gave new bargaining power to Republican lawmakers, who used it to cut spending, throw out some accompanying business tax hikes, keep prisons open, reform state borrowing practices and make Blagojevich consider a number of other issues.
"I'm sure that sometime after the end of May he and his advisers came to the judgment that they were into a different ballgame and there was nowhere to go," says Madigan, who had aligned himself with Republican leaders, Rep. Tom Cross and Sen. Frank Watson.
For his part, Blagojevich says he's pleased enough to declare victory. "I feel very good about this budget. It's a budget that does all the different things we asked for back in February, the key goals, the key priorities," Blagojevich says. "I'd much rather play 15 innings and win for the team then nine innings and lose." >>MORE>>
Illinois Issues July 29, 2004
Ryan drops out
Republican Jack Ryan withdrew his candidacy as U.S. senator from Illinois. A court unsealed custody documents containing accusations that he had forced his ex-wife to attend sex clubs. The former investment banker turned teacher was to have faced off against Democratic state Sen. Barrack Obama. The Wilmette Republican blaimed an "out of control" media for his decision. The Chicago Tribune sued for access to sealed documents related to divorce proceedings between Ryan an his ex-wife, the actress Jeri Ryan. The decision to withdraw followed criticism by party leaders who argued that Ryan had not been forthcoming about whether the documents contained damaging information.
Issues July 8, 2004
Ronald Reagan, the only U.S. president born in Illinois, died June 5. He was 93. The conservative icon, plagued by Alzheimerfs disease in his final years, was entombed near the Reagan Presidential Library in California. Thousands paid respects at the library, in Washington and, in Illinois, at Reaganfs alma mater, Eureka College, his boyhood home in Dixon and at his birthplace in Tampico. Gov. Rod Blagojevich renamed a stretch of I-88 from Sterling to the Quad Cities as the Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway.
Illinois Issues OBIT-Ronald Regan
Ronald Regan Presidential Library
Illinois Issues July 8, 2004
New labor director
Union leader Art Ludwig has been named head of the Illinois Department of Labor. Ludwig, who was business manager of Local Union 701, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, replaces Esther Lopez, who had served as acting director. Lopez now serves as deputy chief of staff of Labor and Professional Regulation.
Illinois Issues July 8, 2004