Gov. Pat Quinn largely approved the 2015 budget lawmakers sent him but used his veto powers Monday to cut about $250 million from the $35.7 billion spending plan.
Quinn said he cut money for renovations to the state Capitol, which drew criticism last year over the hefty price tag. Quinn had said he would freeze future funding the project. He also said he has directed state agencies to made additional reductions, including selling nearly half of the state’s aircraft.
Quinn had already characterized the budget as incomplete. He wanted to extend Illinois’ temporary income tax increase, which rolls back in January, creating an estimated loss of $1.8 billion in revenue. But lawmakers rejected the idea in what’s expected to be a tough election year.
“While legislators didn’t do their job on the budget, I will continue to do mine,” Quinn said in a statement. “Reducing the budget and identifying additional efficiencies will help minimize the impact of cuts in vital services and maintain our hard-won fiscal gains. While there’s more work to do, we must ensure the state lives within its means.”
Lawmakers may override Quinn’s veto with a three-fifths majority vote in both chambers.
The spending plan is for the fiscal year that begins Tuesday. It keeps funding for schools flat but doesn’t allocate enough money to cover all of the state’s expenses. The plan uses special funds for day-to-day operations and banks on future increases in revenue that may not materialize.
Republicans have blasted the plan as “gimmicky” and as endemic of Democratic overspending.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner says the spending plan is a “broken budget.”
In a statement Monday, Rauner says there should be structural reforms to “shake up” the way Springfield does business. Rauner has released some ideas of his own proposed spending plan, including merging the comptroller and treasurer’s office.
Rauner also wants to sell most of the state’s planes, something Quinn said Monday he’s also interested in.
With increased costs in programs and services, lawmakers faced heightened pressure to find additional funds next year or cut at least $4.4 billion in expenses, forcing layoffs, facility closures and massive program cuts.
The Illinois Association of School Administrators was among those decrying the lack of certainty of state revenue coming in, releasing a letter last month calling the budgeting practice “irresponsible from a fiscal standpoint” and one that would “result in significant harm to our districts.”
“Things have to add up,” Quinn said of the plan during a school appearance at a Chicago elementary school earlier this month. “This is not done yet. It’s not complete yet.”
Quinn has said that he intends “to work with the General Assembly through the entire fiscal year to straighten out things that need repair.”
Democratic Senate President John Cullerton has said it’s likely legislators will return after the election and approve either the tax increase extension or other revenue.
SARA BURNETT AND SOPHIA TAREEN, Associated Press