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Illinois' Epic Budget Battle Continues

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Illinois has been in the nation's longest state-budget deadlock since the Great Depression, and not much headway was made over the holiday weekend. (Meagan Davis/Wikimedia Commons)
Illinois has been in the nation's longest state-budget deadlock since the Great Depression, and not much headway was made over the holiday weekend. (Meagan Davis/Wikimedia Commons)
 By Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IL, Contact
July 5, 2017

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Finally, a budget bill has passed both houses of the Illinois Legislature, but the battle is far from over.

The $36 billion spending plan raises the income tax rate to 4.95 percent, a 32 percent increase. Gov. Bruce Rauner took less than two hours on Tuesday to veto it, only to have the state Senate override that veto. The House is expected to do the same this week.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said they're unhappy with the budget, but Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields, said she still believes it's best for the state.

"Right now in this moment, in this time, on this day, the choice is simple," she said. "Either we live to fight another day or we watch the state crash."

Democrats said the plan will reinstate funding for Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants, education, youth-employment and after-school programs, technical education and others that help treat addiction and reduce recidivism rates.

Rep. Peter Breen, R-Lombard, doesn't like the income-tax hike, but said he can't fault his downstate GOP colleagues for voting for it.

"The public universities are crumbling. The service providers in their districts are going bankrupt. Workers in the districts are worried about their jobs, and those members feel they have no choice, and that is certainly understandable," he said. "This is essentially a blackmail budget."

Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, took direct aim at Rauner during the House debate.

"His pompous, rich and wealthy pretension," she said, "believing that what he has is the only way, that if he doesn't get 100 percent of what he wants, then we get nothing."

The Republican governor said the budget will require even more tax hikes and predicted it will lead Illinois to becoming the highest-taxed state in America in the coming years.

Budget information is online at illinois.gov.

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