UPDATE: Illinois House Passes New Budget

May 27, 2014

The Illinois House of Representatives approved a spending plan for state government on Tuesday.

This is not an extension of Illinois' 5% income tax rate. It's also not the "doomsday budget" Gov. Pat Quinn and other Democrats warned would result without that permanently higher tax rate.

Rather, it holds spending essentially flat across state government. But that doesn't mean Illinois' financial problems are solved.

One of the ways state government will hobble through next year is by increasingly delaying payments to vendors, like nursing homes.

Illinois has slowly been digging itself out of a multi-year backlog of such bills. Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) says that situation is likely to get worse.

"People are going to continue to come in the door," said Harris. "People will not stop being disabled. People will not stop getting elderly simply because we don't have the ability to raise the revenue to pay for it."

Harris also says increased costs mean state agencies could be forced into layoffs -- he says that could be "thousands" of employees.

Lawmakers drafted the plan after House Speaker Michael Madigan announced his chamber had given up on extending a temporary income tax increase. That will result in a roughly $1.8 billion revenue drop next year.  

Democratic Sen. Heather Steans says the proposed budget is ``kicking the can down the road'' because lawmakers are banking on additional revenue midway through the year.  

Senate President John Cullerton says lawmakers could return after the November election and make the tax hike permanent or vote to generate other revenue.

Meanwhile, Gov. Pat Quinn's spokesperson Brooke Anderson says the governor believes the House budget plan just "postpones tough decisions". Quinn supports making the higher state income tax rates permanent.

The 2015 budget place was contained in a series of bills voted on by the House on Tuesday: House Bill 6093 (for education), House Bill 6094 (for higher education), House Bill 6095 (for general funds), House Bill 6096 (for human services) and House Bill 6097 for public safety).

Lawmakers in east-central Illinois followed party lines in their votes on the budget bills. Republicans Adam Brown (102nd Dis.), Josh Harms (106th Dis.), Chad Hays(104th Dis.) and Bill Mitchell (101st Dis.) voted against the measures, while Democrats Naomi Jakobsson (103rd Dis.) and Sue Scherer (96th Dis.) voted for them.

Story source: Illinois Public Radio