Chicago Sun-Times
Staff reports on all things politics - from City Hall to Springfield to Washington, D.C.

House passes $2 billion spending plan amid GOP protests

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SPRINGFIELD-The Democratic-led House backed a stopgap spending plan Tuesday to fuel road construction, pay for state workers' health care and stave off child-welfare agency layoffs despite GOP beefs the move would cost $2 billion with no way to pay for it.
The appropriation bill, which passed the House by a 63-52 vote and now moves to the Senate, was pushed by Gov. Pat Quinn's administration to infuse money into cash-starved pockets of state government midway through the 2013 budget cycle.
"There's nothing new, unusual, strange or odd about this bill," said House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago), the bill's chief House sponsor.
"It's time for us to show our commitment to school children, to the mentally ill, to the abused and neglected children of the state of Illinois," Currie continued.
The measure covers spending for more than $600 million worth of unpaid healthcare costs for state employees, $675 million in spring road construction and $25 million to avert layoffs in the Department of Children and Family Services.
But with Republicans insisting there was no clearly identified way to pay for most of the spending, the plan was ridiculed as more of the same in a state that lets unpaid bills accumulate to more than $9 billion.
"The house is on fire. This state can't pay its bills," said state Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills). "If we're going to increase spending, let's cut."

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