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updated: 5/28/2013 9:20 PM

State lawmakers looking to spare schools' bus money

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  • Suburban schools wouldn't see cuts in state funding for buses under a budget plan being pushed in the state Capitol.

       Suburban schools wouldn't see cuts in state funding for buses under a budget plan being pushed in the state Capitol.
    Jeff Knox | Staff Photographer

 
 

SPRINGFIELD -- Suburban schools wouldn't see cuts to the state money that helps pay for their buses under a budget plan that lawmakers started driving through the Capitol Tuesday.

Gov. Pat Quinn had suggested big cuts to schools' transportation funding, a move that could have hit the suburbs hard.

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"It was a sensitive issue for a lot of us," said state Rep. David McSweeney, a Barrington Hills Republican.

But Democrats say the state has come into a little more money since Quinn's plan via higher-than-expected income tax revenues this spring.

Republicans largely opposed Democrats' budget because the state continues to have billions of dollars in unpaid bills that could be further paid down if spending was cut elsewhere. Democrats control the Illinois General Assembly and are driving the bus on the budget process, so a House committee approved the school spending plan by a 9-6 party-line vote.

Lawmakers also advanced a budget for care of the state's elderly and developmentally disabled

State Rep Greg Harris, a Chicago Democrat, said the next year's budget would be tight, but it wouldn't create any new unpaid bills.

Among the department's cost saving measures would be a freeze on all hiring of vacant jobs. It was approved on the Illinois House floor.

Lawmakers have until Friday to finish their budgetmaking. And the way legislation is aligned in their process, they have little room for error between now and then, having to hit a series of smaller deadlines on the way or else any budget deal could fall apart.

Full House votes on budgets for all the state's expenses could come later today.

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