Madigan unveils 'imperfect' budget with tax hikes, some reform
With a Friday deadline fast approaching, Democrats revealed their version of a budget on Tuesday that House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) called a compromise despite leaving out several reforms Republicans had demanded.
“I’m not saying this is perfect,” Madigan said. “I’m not saying that it completely meets every request of the governor, but I think that it goes a long way toward giving the state of Illinois a good solid spending plan that responds to the real needs of the state, the real needs of the people of the state, and it is significantly below the governor’s introduced budget.”
Budget disagreements between Gov. Bruce Rauner and Madigan and his Democrats, who hold the majority in the Legislator, has left Illinois without a budget for two years -- an unprecedented third such year would begin on Saturday if no budget deal is reached by the end of Friday.
The Democrat budget bill allegedly provides Illinois with more than $36 billion in spending that would be used to pay off part of its enormous pension debt, cover its bill backlog that has reached $15 billion, supply money to K-12 education via an evidence-based model, fund human and health services for seniors and those with disabilities, and give cash to community violence prevention and intervention programs.
Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) said the bill absorbed many proposals from Republicans lawmakers and Rauner.
“We also had as a very key objective to accommodate requests of the governor in crafting our proposal by substantially reducing spending, living within the expected limits that he set forward in his budget and also keeping within the framework of the revenue package that had been passed by the Senate that the Senate and House Republicans said that they would support as the basis for their budget, and the governor indicated he [would support],” Harris said.
However, the Democrat budget plan also includes a 4.95 percent individual income tax increase and a 7 percent corporate tax hike that was originally absent in the Republican budget proposals but which Republicans begrudgingly allowed in exchange for property tax relief. The bill does not tie the tax hike to a four-year property tax freeze, which Republican lawmakers wanted, nor is workers' compensation included.
Regardless, Madigan said the bill addresses many of Rauner’s concern.
“We’ve responded to the governor’s call for a special session,” Madigan said. “We’ve been in session every day. The House has worked every day. We’re now prepared to advance these bills, which are responsive to the governor’s request."
"Every day" can be interpreted differently, of course. The lllinois Policy Institute said it wasn't as if the legislators were legislating in that time.
"Over five days, the two legislative chambers have put in less than 100 minutes of work in special session," the institute posted on its website. "With each day of special session costing taxpayers about an additional $50,000, according to an estimate from the Chicago Tribune, the special session has run taxpayers around $300,000, or about $3,000 for each minute the House and Senate have worked."