Gov. Pat Quinn said Tuesday that Illinois’ fiscal state is so bad, he’ll need to borrow $1 billion to keep the government running this winter. That’s $1 billion on top of the $1.25 billion the state borrowed in August just so it could pay its bills. Even with all that borrowing, the state is $2.9 billion behind on bills and faces a nearly $12 billion deficit.

Gov. Pat Quinn said Tuesday that Illinois’ fiscal state is so bad, he’ll need to borrow $1 billion to keep the government running this winter.

That’s $1 billion on top of the $1.25 billion the state borrowed in August just so it could pay its bills. Even with all that borrowing, the state is $2.9 billion behind on bills and faces a nearly $12 billion deficit.

When you look at those numbers, you’d expect lawmakers to make budget issues a priority when they reconvened Wednesday in Springfield for the last three days of the veto session.

As Chicago Cubs fans say: Wait until next year.

It’s unlikely lawmakers will do anything that might cost them votes in next year’s elections, so all you can expect is for them to deal with issues that will make them look good on the campaign trail.

One of those issues is campaign finance reform. Lawmakers thought they had it right when they approved House Bill 7 during the spring session. The bill was hailed as landmark legislation even though its limits on campaign contributions were more than twice as lax as federal law.

Reform groups called the bill a sham and Quinn vetoed the measure. Since then, reform groups have been working with legislators to fix the legislation.

CHANGE Illinois!, a coalition of civic, business, professional and philanthropic organizations, Speaker of the House Mike Madigan and others were meeting at the time this editorial was written to negotiate final points.

The revised bill looks like it will include stricter disclosure requirements and caps on contributions from individuals, labor unions and corporations. However, Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton want to exempt legislative leaders and political action committees.

They’ve backed off somewhat by agreeing to limits in the primary, but not the general election.

Party leaders and PACs can have a huge influence on elections, and exempting them from any meaningful campaign finance reform makes no sense.

However, we won’t be surprised if flawed legislation is approved so incumbents can thump their chests and say they helped change the system.

Legislative pay is another issue back in play because of a veto. It, too, could be used on the campaign trail if spun correctly.

During the spring session, lawmakers approved Senate Bill 2090, which changed how lawmakers receive pay increases.

Under Illinois’ convoluted system, pay increases recommended by the Compensation Review Board go into effect unless legislators vote to reject them. SB 2090 would have made lawmakers vote for a salary increase to get it. It also would have eliminated the cost-of-living increase for the current budget year.

Quinn used his amendatory veto power because he didn’t think that went far enough. Instead of a one-year deal, he wanted to totally eliminate the COLAs.

The Senate voted to override Quinn’s veto Oct. 15. The House probably will vote on the measure this week.

We’re with Quinn; we’d prefer to see the COLAs disappear, too. Many employees in the private sector have seen their wages cut or frozen and will not see improvement in their personal finances until the economy turns around. Our legislators should live under the same restrictions, but we can see incumbents telling constituents that they “sacrificed” and gave up money this year.

We also envision lawmakers bragging about how they helped restore the Monetary Award Program, which gives grants to needy college students.

Of course they won’t mention that they didn’t identify a funding source to restore the grants.

We can expect lawmakers to wrap up the session as quickly as possible so they can prepare for the long runs of the campaign season. It’s just as well if they aren’t going to do anything.

Rockford Register Star