An End To Illinois' Historic Budget Impasse? | WBEZ
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Morning Shift

State Budget Update From Springfield

Is Illinois’ historic budget impasse finally coming to an end? We’ll find out Thursday, when the House is expected to take a vote on overriding Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of the budget plan that calls for a $4.3 billion income-tax hike. 

The House initially approved the budget proposal over the weekend with help from 15 Republicans who broke ranks with Rauner. But it remains to be seen if the House will be able to muster enough votes to override Rauner’s veto. The Senate has already overridden the governor’s veto. 

WBEZ’s Tony Arnold talked to Morning Shift host Tony Sarabia about the budget plan, and we heard from callers about how they would like lawmakers to use the money collected from the income tax increase. 

Here are some highlights. 

On income taxes and budget proposal

Tony Arnold: Currently it’s a flat tax in Illinois, so everyone pays the exact same rate. It’s currently 3.75 percent of your paycheck. This proposal would move it to 4.95 percent. That number would raise about $4 billion total for the state of Illinois. It also includes an increase in the corporate income tax. 

Those two combined takes it to this total spending of $36 billion of a budget. And that is a little less — about $3 billion less — than what the state has been paying with no budget. We’re spending around $39 billion because … judges mandated, “You keep things as they are until there is a budget, until there is a spending plan.” 

This budget includes cuts to make up that $3 billion gap there, so that’s how you get to where this is at. 

On how this budget plan came together 

Arnold: The budget itself came from leaders meetings between House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), Republican House Leader Jim Durkin (Western Springs), and Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno (Lemont), who resigned and was replaced by Sen. Bill Brady (Bloomington). 

This budget came together through some of those talks in addition to talks on the other issues that have come up — property tax freeze, workers’ comp — but those votes didn’t take place this weekend. Instead it was just the budget. 

On budget votes 

Arnold: In the Senate, it was more along party lines than it was in the House. One Republican broke from his party to vote yes in the Senate. That was Sen. Dale Righter from downstate, where there’s Eastern Illinois University in his district. And then two Democrats voted no. That’s Sen. Tom Cullerton in the western suburbs in Dupage, and Sen. Julie Morrison in the northern suburbs. So those are the three senators who broke ranks. 

In the House, it was more than a dozen from both sides who ended up breaking from their party. 

On the income tax increase 

Arnold: It’s worth noting this number, 4.95 percent — how did they get to that percentage rate? Why not 4.85? It’s because in 2011, the income rate went up to 5 percent. This is under former Gov. Pat Quinn. And that had an end date of 2015. And when Rauner won the election in 2014, he said he wanted this to sunset. That’s how we got to 3.75 percent, the current percent. 

Then during negotiations — when they were happening, they’re not really happening right now — but when they were, Republicans were saying, “There’s no way we can go over that 5 percent rate that the Democrats had passed in 2011.” So they said, “OK. Fine. We’ll go just below it, 4.95 percent.” That’s how you get there.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click the "play" button to listen to the entire interview. 

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