I’m not launching a crusade against fake news, I’ll admit I consumed all of those stories above. But I am here to draw attention once again to the state budget, or lack thereof. With one week left in the legislative session let’s review the most important issue here in our state.
The Illinois Senate passed many of the bills in their “Grand Bargain,” budget plan. They first stripped the clauses which tied the bills together, so each bill now stands on its own. Then, bit by bit they have begun passing the legislation which will be sent to the Illinois House for consideration.
Education reform, local government consolidation, debt restructuring for the bill backlog, casino gaming expansion, procurement reform, and pension reform all passed last week and have been assigned to House committees.
Then on Tuesday, the Senate passed the omnibus tax increase in SB9 in a party line vote. It increases the personal income tax rate from 3.75% to 4.95% and increases the corporate tax rate from 5.25% to 7%.
The bill was heavily amended before it passed, but many of the new business taxes remained. Out is the 6.25% tax on personal services, landscaping, and home maintenance. But SB9 levies a new tax on dry cleaning, laundry, storage units, vehicle maintenance, and tattoo parlors.
Now all attention should turn to the House, where the fate is still unclear. Governor Rauner stated he will not support the bills without property tax relief.
Meanwhile, Speaker Madigan issued a statement that his working group “will thoroughly review the Senate’s proposal and consider it as part of our efforts to pass a full-year balanced budget that will end the budget impasse.”
That lukewarm statement belies the importance of this issue. Every day we go without a budget we accrue an additional $11 million in additional debt, and the legislative session ends on May 31. If there’s no budget by then, the state will enter a third year without.