When lawmakers raised individual income taxes from three percent to five percent a few years ago, it came with an expiration date.
The reckoning is January 1, 2015, and it's expected to leave a hole in the budget of at least $1.5 billion.
It would be hard to overstate what a big deal this is. Even if lawmakers wiped out all state funding for public universities, they would still be hundreds of millions short of filling that gap.
One prominent politician has managed to avoid the issue for now. Governor Pat Quinn has yet to say where he stands on the issue.
The governor was scheduled to propose his budget plan February. 19. But he's asking to push it back until late March, after the primary election. The administration says it wants more time to crunch numbers, and is promising a long-term spending plan.
Republicans oppose that and say it doesn't leave enough time to thoroughly consider Quinn's budget.
But House Democrats went along with Quinn's request, though Speaker Mike Madigan his chamber will keep working on the budget.
“The governor is asking for a delay, but here in the House, we're not asking for a delay. We're going to move forward,” said Madigan.
This matters because in recent years the House has led the way on budget-making.