Macomb, IL – Illinois lawmakers gave Governor Pat Quinn a good deal of authority to make final spending decisions. A western Illinois lawmaker thinks he was given too much power.
State Representative Rich Myers (R-Colchester) said a good example is a bill that would provide extra money for Illinois State Police operations through fines and fees collected at the local level.
Myers said it was hoped the money would be used to keep open a number of ISP districts that are slated for closure, including the one in Macomb. But Myers said there is no guarantee that money will be used for that purpose.
"The budget that was passed gives the governor a great deal of authority and latitude to cut where he feels cuts are needed," Myers said in an interview with Tri States Public Radio. "It was a disappointment to me that we didn't have a budget that we could pass that had some stipulations in it as to what the governor could do with the state police."
Myers said he did not vote in favor of giving the governor so much discretion over spending. He said the governor was given way too much authority and power.
"It also gives him the authority to cut other programs that maybe the General Assembly feels are important or necessary. It also gives him the authority to cut different areas in greater amounts than what the General Assembly would prefer," Myers said.
But he also points out lawmakers did not pass a balanced budget.
Myers feels Republicans were left out of the process by majority Democrats. Myers said the GOP came up with 63 bills to provide cost savings or budget cuts, but the measures were not allowed out of committee for a vote on the floor.
Myers also said some Republicans might be willing to support an income tax increase to provide more money for the state. But he said Republicans first want to see greater strides made to balance spending with revenues. He said the GOP's ideas would not fill the entire $13 billion budget gap but they would provide a start.
Myers said there should be a brighter future for the state. He hopes to see changes in the way things are done after the November elections.
Myers is running for reelection in November, even though he announced three months ago that he is battling prostate cancer.
"I am feeling absolutely wonderful," Myers said. "I am in treatment. I'm responding well to treatment. That's keeping me encouraged."
Myers said he feels better physically than he has in many months. He said he's changed his diet and is working out more. He's looking forward to continued years of better health.
Myers said he can continue to do the job while undergoing treatment.