House Approves Tax Hike, Spending Plans

AP Photo/Seth Perlman

The Illinois House approved a permanent $5 billion tax hike proposal and a $36 billion spending plan in separate votes Sunday in Springfield.

Fifteen Republicans crossed the aisle to join Democrats in approving the tax hike on a 72-45 vote, one more yes vote than needed for approval.

A stronger bipartisan presence approved the spending plan. That vote was 81-34. Both measures now advance to the Senate which convenes at 2 p.m. Monday.

Republican State Representative Mike Unes voted in favor of both measures. GOP State Reps. Ryan Spain of Peoria and Keith Sommer of Morton both voted “no.”

The tax hike includes an increase in the individual income tax rate from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent. Corporate tax will rise from 5.25 percent to seven percent. Each would be retroactive to July 1, 2017.

The tax hikes are permanent, while Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner had been advocating temporary tax hikes.

Unes gave an impassioned plea on the House floor to colleagues to vote in favor of the tax hike, even though doing so could mean political suicide.

“This is the sword I’m willing to die on and if I lose my seat, so be it,” Unes said.

“Nobody should celebrate if this bill passes,” Unes said, “because we should not have gotten to this point to begin with.”

The state of Illinois began a third fiscal year Saturday without a budget.

“The trajectory we are on right now is immoral,” Unes said. “I don’t like this but this needs to stop. I urge you to vote yes on this so we can stop this insanity once and for all.”

Spain issued a statement following his votes against the proposals.

“I have been prepared to make tough choices and to compromise, but good faith efforts and cooperation were also needed,” Spain said. “Unfortunately, what we saw this week from the Speaker is simply pulling the rug out from the hard-work negotiations that so many legislators, on both sides, have been working on in earnest.”

“I am deeply frustrated that the Speaker has walked away from critically-needed reforms like Workers Compensation Reform, property tax relief, and pension reform- which are huge cost drivers on employers,” Spain said. “Failure to pass these reforms, will continue to push people and jobs out of our State and we’re already leading the nation in population loss.”

Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan issued a statement saying, “Democrats and Republicans stood together to take a crucial step toward reaching a compromise that ends the budget crisis by passing a fully funded state budget in a bipartisan way. While none could say this was an easy decision, it was the right decision.”

Madigan said, “There is more work to be done.” Possibly reflecting votes on similar proposals in the Senate that gathered as many as 32 yes votes. A super-majority of 36 positive votes will be need to move the budget proposals out of the Senate to the governor’s desk.

Rauner immediately issued a statement saying he will, “veto Michael Madigan’s 32 percent tax hike.”

“Under Speaker Madigan’s direction, legislators chose to double down on higher taxes while protecting the special interests and refusing to reform the status quo,” Rauner said. “It’s a repeat of the failed policies that created this financial crisis and caused jobs and taxpayers to flee.”

“Moving forward, this vote shows that if the legislature is willing to pass the largest tax hike in state history with no reforms, then we must engage citizens and redouble our efforts to change the state,” Rauner said.

Republicans were miffed at the early portion of Sunday’s session when Democrats presented an over 600-page amendment to the spending plan that was approved in a separate reading Friday.

The amendment, approved Sunday, spends less than the governor wanted and $395 million less than the amendment that was approved Friday.

Both measures passed in the House with veto proof majorities, if the votes hold up.

 

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