Illinois Senate passes budget, overrides governor’s veto

SPRINGFIELD — In a stunning series of votes Tuesday, the Illinois Senate approved a controversial budget package to bring the state back from the brink of financial disaster, then overrode a veto of the plan by the governor.

The Illinois House is expected to take up the veto override later in the week and is anticipated to follow the Senate’s lead.

The budget contains a $5 billion permanent income tax increase and a $36 billion spending plan.

The Democratic-controlled Senate provided three-fifths majorities on both votes taken Tuesday morning. The tax increase passed 36-18. The spending plan passed by a 39-14 vote.

Several Republicans broke ranks on Monday to help pass similar plans in the House.

A symbol of just how important the vote by the Senate was came in an appearance by state Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton, who has been battling cancer for several months.

Haine, who was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer that affects the bones, has been undergoing treatment since February.

“This has been a trying time for both my family and me. However, being present to help bring stability back to the state is of absoluteimportance. Although I have been facing some hardships over the last few months, this is bigger than me. This is about the citizens of Illinois and ensuring they have a future in this great state,” he said in a statement before the votes.

Haine said he was casting votes “to help make sure schools open in the fall, state universities receive state funding and seniors continue to receive the care they need.”

On Monday, two of the nation’s top credit-ratings agencies, Fitch Ratings and S&P Global Ratings, indicated satisfaction with the new developments. Earlier, they threatened to move Illinois’ creditworthiness into “junk” status without swift action to approve a budget.

Rauner issued the following veto message:

“Today I veto Senate Bill 6 from the 100th General Assembly, which is part of Speaker Michael Madigan’s 32 percent permanent income tax increase forced upon the hard working people of Illinois.

“The package of legislation fails to address Illinois’ fiscal and economic crisis – and in fact, makes it worse in the long run. It does not balance the budget. It does not make nearly sufficient spending reductions, does not pay down our debt, and holds schools hostage to force a Chicago bailout.

“This budget package does not provide property tax relief to struggling families and employers. It does not provide regulatory relief to businesses to create jobs and grow the economy. It does not include real term limits on state elected officials to fix our broken political system.

“Even with the Madigan permanent 32 percent income tax increase, this budget remains $2 billion out of balance for fiscal year 2018. This budget will require even more tax hikes to balance the budget and pay down the bill backlog. This budget puts Illinois on track for major future tax increases and will lead us to become the highest taxed state in America in the coming years.

“Moreover, this budget package holds K-12 school funding across Illinois hostage to force a bailout of Chicago Public Schools. Hidden in this budget are terms that withhold school funding unless the school funding formula is rewritten to shift money from suburban and downstate school districts to CPS.

“Budgets in Illinois will not be balanced or stay balanced unless our economy grows faster than our government spending. We have been ignoring that truth for 35 years. This budget package includes no changes to create jobs and grow our economy. It will push more families and businesses out of our state,” Rauner said.

Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, released the following statement today regarding his vote for the budget package:

“Illinois is on the verge of insolvency. If we do not enact a budget immediately, it will take decades to recover from the economic damage that’s being inflicted upon our state – ironically in the name of achieving economic reforms,” he said. “The district I represent is suffering perhaps more than any other area of Illinois because of its reliance on state government as both an employer and a customer and its dramatically underfunded public schools.

“The Illinois Senate passed a complete and balanced budget on May 23 prior to our scheduled adjournment. The governor then called the General Assembly into a protracted and expensive special session for the purpose of passing a bipartisan, balanced budget. And that is exactly what the General Assembly did today.”

Manar said the balanced budget will fully fund schools and allow them to open on time. It also cuts unnecessary spending, enacts reforms and spends less that what the governor requested, he said.

Tuesday was the fourth day of the third consecutive fiscal year that Illinois has begun without an annual budget agreement.

“It’s regrettable that I stand here today not capable of being able to support this package, not because what’s in the package is bad, but because it’s incomplete,” said the Senate’s new minority leader, Bill Brady, R-Bloomington. “We need a comprehensive budget package with reforms.”

 

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