Illinois Senate Takes No Action On Budget | WBEZ
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Illinois Senate Takes No Action On Budget

The Illinois Senate has adjourned without taking action on House-approved legislation to break the nation's longest budget standoff since the Great Depression.

The Legislature plans to return Tuesday at 10 a.m.

Chicago Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan has scheduled a meeting of the four legislative leaders for the same time. Republicans were no-shows at the one he had Monday afternoon with Democratic Senate President John Cullerton of Chicago.

Cullerton said it would be “very difficult” to pass the budget plan with just Democrats — even though they have a supermajority.

"We have to do something," Cullerton said. "The House has acted but we’d prefer to do it with an agreement from the Republicans. That’s why we’ve asked them to come back here."

The House voted overwhelmingly Sunday night for a $36 billion spending plan fueled by a $5 billion increase in income taxes. The plans are not dissimilar from ones the Senate OK'd in May. The Senate needs to concur in House changes.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner said he will veto the budget proposal because it doesn't include "structural" changes that he says would boost business and relieve property-taxpayers. Among his demands are a property tax freeze, term limits on state lawmakers and changes to the state's workers' compensation system. 

Madigan said his Democrats continue to negotiate with GOP members on those matters. Madigan also said he will work to override the governor's promised veto, but he expects Rauner will attempt to change the minds of 15 House Republicans who joined a 72-vote supermajority Sunday night to approve the income tax hike. It would increase the personal tax rate 32 percent.

Also on Monday, two credit-ratings agencies chimed in with positive notes on Illinois' financial outlook after the House passed a budget plan on Sunday. 

S&P Global Ratings issued a notice Monday that a House vote to raise $5 billion through an income-tax increase "represents a meaningful step toward the enactment of a comprehensive budget." Illinois has been without a budget for two years. It has a $6.2 billion deficit and backlogged bills total $14.7 billion. The major credit agencies had warned of a downgrade to "junk" status without swift action.

S&P cautioned that even with a budget "it's likely that Illinois' finances would remain strained and vulnerable to unanticipated economic stresses."

Fitch Ratings issued a similar notice Monday morning, a day after the House vote. But the measure's fate remains unclear in the Senate. 

Monday was the third day of the fiscal year. Illinois has been without a budget since 2015 because of disagreements between Rauner and Democrat-controlled Legislature.

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