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Illinois Has Entered Year 3 Without A Budget

By aaroncynic in News on Jul 3, 2017 7:43PM

IllinoisStateCapitol.jpg Even though Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and lawmakers in Springfield both spent the past week talking a big game about their special legislative session to hammer out a budget deal, Illinois began its third year without a budget over the weekend.

On Saturday, the House approved both spending and budget bills, voting 72-45 and 81-34, respectively, with more than a dozen Republicans breaking rank with the governor. In a move that surprised approximately no one, Rauner immediately said he would veto the plan, calling it a “permanent 32 percent tax hike.”

The House spending plan would increase the personal income tax rate from a flat 3.75 percent to just under 5 percent, still below where the tax rate was three years ago before former Governor Pat Quinn’s temporary tax increase rolled back as Rauner took office. The corporate rate would increase to 7 percent from 5.25, or 2015 levels. In both cases, the rates would’ve been made permanent, whereas Rauner wanted them to sunset after four years. The package could bring in a much-needed near $5 billion in revenue.

As the new fiscal year began, Illinois’ deficit has ballooned to $6 billion, and the state has more than $15 billion in overdue bills. The state’s credit rating is flirting with junk bond status, and—in addition to the vendors that haven't been paid and a host of social service agencies that have had to make massive cutbacks or close their doors over the past two years-lottery sales and road construction could halt, among numerous other consequences.

While the spending and budget bills both had bipartisan votes, they didn’t include any of the demands Rauner has spent the majority of his term keeping a budget at bay to pass. In a statement, Rauner called the plan a continuation of “out of balance budgets with no real reform.” In what’s become a typical procedural move for Rauner, he blamed his archnemesis House Speaker Michael Madigan.

“The legislature could have passed a no-reform budget like the one two years ago,” said Rauner. “Instead, they allowed Mike Madigan to play his political games, passed phony budgets, racked up our debt and inflicted pain on the most vulnerable. All of this to force a permanent, 32 percent tax increase on Illinois families.”

Though Madigan and Democrats generally throw the blame back on Rauner, Madigan issued a statement hailing what he called a bipartisan effort.

“Democrats and Republicans stood together to take a crucial step toward reaching a compromise that ends the budget crisis by passing a fully funded state budget in a bipartisan way,” said the Speaker. “While none could say this was an easy decision, it was the right decision; it’s clear that a budget package that cuts billions of dollars in state spending and also provides new revenue is the only path forward.”

The Senate will take on the bill Monday.