Illinois lawmakers last month approved legislation that allows Gov. Pat Quinn to delay the release of a fiscal 2010 budget by one month until March 18.

Lawmakers said the new governor — who took office last month after the Illinois House impeached and the Senate convicted Rod Blagojevich of abusing his power — needs more time to address a forecasted $9 billion deficit in the current fiscal 2009 budget and next fiscal 2010 budget.

Quinn has accused the former governor’s prior top staff of not being cooperative in sharing key information prior to the transition, adding to the difficulties of crafting a balanced budget.

However, Quinn has praised and is so far sticking with budget director Ginger Ostro and her staff and has consulted with his longtime friend, former budget director John Filan, who now serves as executive director of the Illinois Finance Authority.

Quinn has not said how he would shore up the state’s budget, but it’s expected that some tax increases will be sought in addition to spending cuts.

Separately, a reform commission named by Quinn to recommend changes to state government laws and operations, last week urged the governor to issue an order that would strengthen compliance by state agencies, boards, and commissions with the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. State agencies in the past have come under fire for dragging their feet in releasing information.

In addition, the commission’s letter urges the governor to support vigorous enforcement efforts, including legal proceedings to force compliance when necessary. The panel’s full report, which will include additional recommendations, will be released in April. The commission has been holding meetings throughout Illinois to take testimony on ways to improve state government.

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