Tuesday marks the end of the 2009 state fiscal year. That's the year for which the state has a budget. There is no budget yet for 2010. So the state shuts down? Nah, not unless Gov. Pat Quinn orders something drastic to reinforce the notion that a tax hike is needed.

Tuesday marks the end of the 2009 state fiscal year. That's the year for which the state has a budget. There is no budget yet for 2010.

So the state shuts down? Nah, not unless Gov. Pat Quinn orders something drastic to reinforce the notion that a tax hike is needed. There's a very good chance the day will pass with no tax hike and no final budget. And come Wednesday morning state employees will still report for work while political "leaders" flounder around for some way out of the mess they've created.

In other words, just another day at the office.

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Quinn's in a really tough spot now.

After weeks of telling everyone that human services programs will be devastated without a tax increase, Quinn is now saying he won't let the programs be decimated, even though lawmakers haven't given him an income tax hike.

The problem for Quinn is this: He can follow through on the cuts that ultimately will hurt needy people who couldn’t care less whether Democrats or Republicans come out of this with a political edge.

Or he can spare them and officially join the long list of governors who have cried wolf. That would be a disaster for Quinn.

Even before he appeared to waffle on the cuts last week, there were lawmakers who thought Quinn would never let the human service cuts happen. If you don't believe the cuts will happen, you don't feel a lot of pressure to cast a risky vote for a tax hike.

Who in the legislature is ever going to take him seriously again if he makes a colossal issue of human service cuts and then backs off? If he does that, he might as well skip the idea of running for another term as governor. You can't negotiate if everyone expects you'll cave sooner or later.

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The other really bad idea floating around is a one-month budget extension. After not accomplishing anything for six months, Senate Republicans think this will be resolved if everyone gets another month to work on it? Oh brother.

Another month will simply give everyone another four weeks to posture and point fingers. As the next month draws to a close, we'll be right where we are now. It happened in 2007 and there's no reason to think it will be any different now.

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Human service providers promised a giant rally to protest budget cuts to their programs and they delivered. A crowd estimated at 5,000 or more descended in the Capitol.

It's easily the largest gathering since a year ago when the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees marched through Springfield over the slow progress of negotiations on a new state contract. The rally and march didn't exactly change anything. A couple of days after it was held the contract talks stalled to the point that both sides agreed to a mediator.

Last week's rally didn't exactly change anything, either. Lawmakers met in floor session for only a matter of minutes the day of the rally. A day later they continued their strenuous week by leaving town. By that time, the rally was long over and the participants long gone, allowing lawmakers to resume their regular routines.

We said before the big rallies have little impact on most lawmakers, although few discuss it openly. Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, was the exception last week.

"I told people at the rally they should do it at district offices," Link said. "When (lawmakers) see this guy is the guy they see at the Jewel or they see this guy at the barbershop, then they look at it a little different. I think that's more effective than what they can do down here. If you do it in a legislator's office, it's going to be more effective."

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Just a reminder: When lawmakers came back to Springfield last week and did nothing, they were in special session. So what? So by calling a special session Quinn ensured each lawmaker would collect $132 in daily expense money. If lawmakers had simply agreed to return to fix the mess they've made, but without calling it a special session, they would not have been entitled to the money.

So much for Quinn's notion of shared sacrifice.

Doug Finke can be reached at (217) 788-1527 or doug.finke@sj-r.com.