Sweeping the State Budget

By WEEK Producer

October 28, 2011 Updated Oct 26, 2013 at 2:07 AM CDT

The Illinois Supreme Court may have opened the door for Governor Pat Quinn and state lawmakers to grab hundreds of millions of dollars for the next state budget...and it all started because of a motorcycle training program.

Motorcyclists --when they pay for their license plates --contribute to the "Cycle Riders Safety Training Fund", money that's to be spent on motorcycle safety education and education.

But, in 2008, then-Governor Blagojevich ordered $296,000 be taken from the fund to pay general state bills. It's called "sweeping".

Motorcyle advocacy group ABATE sued, saying the cycle training money couldn't be used for other purposes.

Now, the Illinois Supreme Court has ruled against ABATE, saying the governor and Legislature can take money from hundreds of special state funds -- millions of dollars.

The vote was 6-to-1 with only Chief Justice Tom Kilbride opposing...saying the court "has an obligation to address the implications of sweeping private donations and federal grant moneys".

Governor Quinn's spokeswoman said there are no plans to sweep any special funds for the next state budget.

But the governor has come to rely on interfund borrowing. And now, "borrowed" funds wouldn't have to be paid back.

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