Judge Zappa blocks raiding dedicated funds
Chicago Tribune (Rick Pearson):
Judge blocks governor's money planThe law involves some interpretation. Borrowing a little money judges could probably live with. But raiding the funds without having a plan to fix the underlying problem probably concerned the judge.
Day-to-day state bills can't be paid from special funds, he says
A Downstate judge Friday issued a preliminary injunction blocking Gov. Rod Blagojevich from paying day-to-day state bills with money siphoned from special state accounts earmarked for the regulation of financial institutions.
The state has hundreds of such funds, filled by special assessments and fees, that were set up to bankroll conservation programs, scholarships, financial regulation and a variety of other narrow missions.
But Blagojevich, with legislative backing, has drawn more than $400 million out of the special accounts over the last 18 months to pay day-to-day bills of government, ease the state's cash crunch and avoid a general tax increase. In his budget for the coming fiscal year, Blagojevich proposes to tie all increases in spending for schools to the so-called fund sweeps.
The ruling by Sangamon County Circuit Judge Leo Zappa affected only three of the special funds, from which Blagojevich has taken $5 million. But it raised new questions about whether any of Blagojevich's fund diversions could pass legal muster.