Cross says state budget plan could be ready soon

Updated 4/28/2011 2:26 AM
  • Illinois House Republican leader Tom Cross

    Illinois House Republican leader Tom Cross

House Republican Leader Tom Cross said Wednesday that the Illinois House could have budget plans ready to go in two or three weeks.

Doing so would put lawmakers at odds with the Springfield budget process of recent years, where officials negotiate right up until their May 31 deadline -- or even pass it.

But, Cross said, because efforts in the House could clash with the Senate and Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, the state's spending plans likely won't be wrapped up by mid-May.

"There's more to come after that," he said.

In the House, rank-and-file members of budget committees are in the process of trying to find big cuts to the state budget -- cuts both sides agree are likely to be painful.

Cross made the comments during a meeting with the Daily Herald editorial board.

So far, Republicans say the two parties have worked surprisingly well together, and Cross says he trusts House Speaker Michael Madigan's word to hold spending under an agreed-to amount.

"The fact that he's kind of embracing our ideas, I like that, to be honest," said Cross, of Oswego.

The Illinois Senate, though, hasn't necessarily done the same. They're calling for a higher spending limit. Quinn's introduced plans are higher still.

As is typical of May in Springfield, budget talks could consume a lot of lawmakers' time in the coming month.

This year, though, lawmakers also have to redraw political boundaries, a process that's likely to be controversial and attention-consuming. And some want debates on issues such as medical marijuana, gambling expansion and reforms to the workers' compensation system as well.