Tight Illinois budget still contains pet projects

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CHICAGO (AP) — The state budget signed by Gov. Pat Quinn last week has been criticized as incomplete by Republicans and Democrats. But it includes millions of dollars in pet projects for legislators across Illinois.

Expenses in the $35.7 billion spending plan include a new school in House Speaker Michael Madigan's Chicago district, money to promote a racetrack near St. Louis and funds to plan Illinois' 200th birthday celebration in 2018.

The items are part of a 2015 budget that lawmakers admit doesn't include enough revenue to cover regular spending needs. However, lawmakers defend the extras as necessary for job creation or projects already underway.

Quinn eliminated $250 million for state Capitol renovations, arguing it would minimize cuts. But the money comes from a capital bill using bonds, not funds for everyday operations.

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