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Sen. Syverson says unbalanced budget is unconstitutional

Friday, February 26, 2010  
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Posted: Feb 26, 2010 6:20 PM CST
By Samantha Ptashkin

ROCKFORD (WREX)- Illinois lawmakers try to come up with cost cutting methods, as they tackle a $13 billion deficit.

The state hasn't passed a balanced budget in years and Governor Quinn may propose one that's $5 billion in the red for 2011. But one Rockford lawmaker doesn't want to let that happen again.

Senator Dave Syverson says the Illinois constitution requires the state has a balanced budget, so now he may take legal action. "What we have now is legislators that are basically cowards, they want to increase spending, but they won't raise taxes, but the end result is they just keep passing unbalanced budgets and we go deeper and deeper in to debt," Syverson (R-34) said.

He says Illinois now has more debt per capita than any other state and fears what might happen if legislators pass another unbalanced budget. "We have a state that's financially unstable and companies don't want to come to a state like this, they're afraid to because they keep hearing about the instability of Illinois' finances."

Syverson's working with a couple of constitutional lawyers and the National Association of Legislators to see if a court can intervene and require the governor to abide by the constitution.

Rockford College Political Science Professor Bob Evans says it would be difficult to take any legal action for two reasons. One, Quinn can lay out expenses and then say it's up to legislators to decide how the state comes up with the money to balance the budget.

The second reason is because the "courts will say certain questions are left to the political branches to determine and then courts won't intervene," Evans said.

13 News talked to Syverson's democratic opponent in the 34th District race, Jennifer Cacciapaglia. She says she'll look into Syverson's idea before forming an opinion.

Democratic State Rep. Chuck Jefferson says he doesn't like passing an unbalanced budget, but it's what they have to do because the state can't operate without a budget.

Governor Quinn will present the 2011 spending plan March 10.

This story appeared at on February 26, 2010.

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