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Article updated: 3/22/2013 2:06 PM

State House GOP wants new balanced budget amendment

By Mike Riopell

SPRINGFIELD -- As the state remains about $9 billion behind in paying its bills, House Republican Leader Tom Cross and other GOP lawmakers are calling for a more stringent balanced budget amendment to the Illinois Constitution.

The proposal would cut off paychecks for lawmakers and statewide officials if the Illinois Auditor General determines the budget is unbalanced.

"The goal here is to put the pressure on us," Cross said.

Other payments that aren't considered absolutely necessary would be cut off, too, but some questions remain about what exactly that entails. In addition, Democrats who control the Illinois House and Senate might be unlikely to go along with the proposal.

The Illinois Constitution already has a balanced budget provision of sorts, but the state has managed to accumulate huge loads of debt anyway.

Lawmakers have until May 31 to approve a budget and are working through the details now. Saturday begins a two-week break in their annual spring session in Springfield.

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