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Article updated: 10/29/2012 4:50 PM

Sente, Mathias cite records on budget, financial issues

By Steve Zalusky

In the state's only race pitting incumbent legislator against incumbent legislator, both state Rep. Sidney Mathias and Rep. Carol Sente are touting their efforts in Springfield to put Illinois back on solid financial footing.

Sente, a Democrat from Vernon Hills, cites her sponsorship of Illinois' Budgeting for Outcomes Law. The measure, signed into law last year, requires legislators to start from scratch when creating an annual budget, rather than simply building off the prior year's spending plan.

The law creates more transparency in the budget process, Sente said.

"I was dismayed that too much of the budget is done by the leaders and staff, and there wasn't the involvement I thought there should be from the legislators," she said.

Although she said progress on implementing the bill could go farther, she credits the bill with significant savings in the past two years.

However, Mathias, who supported the bill, said "I'm not so sure that it's working."

He said the latest budget -- which he voted against -- was the result of business as usual, with the House Speaker Michael Madigan making the final decisions.

"The concept sounds great. And I have to give her credit for that. But the problem in our state is that we still have one-man rule," Mathias said.

"The problem is, as we saw in the budget this year, we tried to develop a budget that was agreed upon by both sides. And then, at the very end, the Speaker decided to throw another $300 or $400 million into the budget that we didn't agree upon," he added.

Mathias said he has a history of proposing budget reforms, including a constitutional amendment to combine the offices of state comptroller and treasurer. He also believes the state can reduce travel expenses through the use of such tools as videoconferencing.

On the revenue side, he said by addressing pension reform and making Illinois more business friendly, the state could bring in more money without having to raise taxes.

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