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Thanks, Blago: Illinois Budget Deficit Nearly $9 Billion

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois state government faces an even bigger budget crisis than anyone realized.

The combined budget deficit for this year and next could approach $9 billion, according to state Comptroller Dan Hynes.

Hynes says Illinois will carry a deficit of more than $4 billion into the budget year that begins July 1. Then the new budget year will see its own, even larger gap.

The figures assume officials don't increase spending except for Medicaid and pension costs that are set by law. If spending goes up elsewhere, the deficit would go up, too.

Hynes says economic-stimulus money from the federal government could reduce the gap. Even if that money comes through, state officials will still have to figure out how to fill a $6 billion hole.