A resolution to urge Gov. Rod Blagojevich to stay in Springfield when the legislature is in overtime or special session unanimously passed a House committee Wednesday.
"We're just encouraging him -- we're not requiring him," said Rep. Jack Franks, D-Woodstock, who chairs the House State Government Administration Committee.
Rep. Careen Gordon, D-Coal City, said the state constitution would not allow the legislature to demand that the governor stay in Springfield, although it does require that all statewide-elected officials maintain residences in the capital city.
Blagojevich has come under fire for using state planes to fly back and forth daily from his home in Chicago to Springfield to attend budget negotiations with legislative leaders. The Associated Press has estimated the flights cost taxpayers more than $5,800 a day and that he has spent more than $75,000 traveling to and from the budget talks.
The governor and his staff also have criticized House members for scheduling sessions three days a week since the General Assembly missed its May 31 adjournment deadline. He has said they should work at least five days.
"We have been called out on our 'questionable' -- according to the governor's office -- work habits," Gordon told the committee. "I think a resolution like this, spelled out ever so eloquently to the administration, will let him know that we are always ready to work, have worked longer hours than him, on many, many, many more days than him."
House Resolution 507 reads, in part: "Reaching a consensus on a State budget and any remaining substantive issues requires the legislative leaders and the Governor to be consistently present in Springfield to negotiate on the budget and remaining associated issues."
It goes on to state that the House resolves "that the Governor reside in Springfield ready to negotiate during the General Assembly's scheduled overtime session and any special session days."
Before the resolution passed, 8-0, Franks said he intends to sponsor another resolution to recommend that the state reimburse the governor for only one trip to and from Springfield each week, the same rule that applies to state lawmakers.
"I believe he should either have to pay out of his own personal account or his campaign account, and I certainly think he should get a 1099 (tax form) from the state of Illinois as a personal benefit that he's received," Franks said. Exceptions could be made for state emergencies, he said.
Gordon said all lawmakers would prefer to be at home in the evenings when the General Assembly is in session.
"I don't have that luxury that he does," she said.
Both Franks and Gordon said they had attended meetings in their districts on recent non-session days, and most of the questions their constituents asked were about the governor's travel.
With the committee's action, the resolution now could be called for a vote by the full House. Unlike legislation, resolutions do not require the governor's signature.
Blagojevich's office did not respond to requests for comment.