- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The lack of a state budget means there won’t be Christmas lights on the Illinois Capitol dome this year.

Secretary of State Jesse White’s office said Tuesday that it will skip the annual tradition because the lights are an unnecessary cost. White spokesman Dave Druker said not stringing the lights will save about $7,300.

Workers have hung 260-foot strands of lights on the Capitol dome every year since the 1960s. The office hasn’t decided yet if it will decorate inside the Capitol. It usually puts up a Christmas tree and menorah in the rotunda.

“While the lights add color to the Capitol landscape and are a nice tradition, the fact of the matter is the lights are nonessential and the Secretary of State’s office is cutting back wherever possible to save money,” White spokesman Henry Haupt said. “Resources need to be maintained to continue providing customer service and essential services. We look forward to the return of the lights next holiday season.”

It normally takes a crew of 12 workers up to three hours to install the lights. The strands use 25-watt bulbs. White’s office said two years ago that LED bulbs may be used but there was no timeline for the change.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic leaders in the General Assembly have been at a budget impasse since July 1.

This isn’t the office’s first cost-cutting measure in regards to the lack of a budget. White’s office already has stopped mailing yearly reminders to renew their vehicle registrations estimating $450,000 a month in postage savings.

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Information from: The State Journal-Register, http://www.sj-r.com

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