Area lawmakers describe tough votes on IL budget

Here’s the budget deal that the Illinois legislature ultimately landed

House representatives voted on Thursday to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto, ushering in higher income taxes along with a bit of fiscal certainty the state hasn't had since 2015.

Supporters of the tax increase said it would help bring financial stability to the state. In theory, the state reimbursing the purse accounts for the awards would free money that could be used to increase overnight purses, but details regarding how the money might be used and the mechanism for its distribution still were being ironed out Friday. IL has gone down this tax increase road before: these rate hikes nearly perfectly mirror a temporary increase which began in 2011 and raised about $31 billion in additional revenue, ostensibly to help the state pay down its backlog of unpaid bills.

The push for lawmakers came largely from major rating companies, which threatened to pull Illinois's investment-grade rank if the government did not produce a budget for the year that began on July 1.

In a statement emailed to Mic, Southern Illinois University president Randy Dunn said passing the budget on Thursday was a "tough decision" necessary to "effective governance".

But opponents said the tax increase will squeeze more IL families financially and persuade others to leave the state.

"I was sent to Springfield to fix our problems, not to make them worse", Hammond said. Those include a statewide property tax freeze, cost-cutting restrictions on compensation for injured workers, changes to pension benefits for state employees, and reforms making it easier for voters to merge or eliminate local governing bodies.

In a flurry of wide-ranging reaction after the vote, supporters of the measure - including Democrats, social agencies, labor unions and school-related entities - laid blame on Rauner for the long budget impasse and predicted the new measure will begin to fix the state's finances. IL isn't out of danger yet, since the state has racked up $15 billion in unpaid bills. Ten Republicans who defied Gov. Bruce Rauner joined with Democrats for the 71 votes needed to end the crisis - the nation's longest since at least the Great Depression.

It turned out to be bigger struggle for 67 House Democrats than in the initial tax-increase vote Sunday.

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Supporters of the tax hike present it as responsible governance in the face of dire circumstances. "The lack of a state budget means the government can't fund services that people want".

House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat, praised bipartisan cooperation for ending an "unbelievable struggle" lasting two years with Rauner.

"My desire is that it will be determined on what we must do together as a body in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead", he said.

The Ounce of Prevention Fund, an early childhood education foundation run by Diana Rauner, put out a statement earlier this week urging IL lawmakers to override her husband's veto. "I am confident voters will hold those politicians accountable for choosing Mike Madigan over the people of IL".

"No matter our differences, I hope we can agree that our state is worth fighting for", Mendoza said in a video statement after the budget passed.

Mitchell said the vote for a tax increase was the most hard he had taken in his 18 years as a legislator. But lawmakers are at least hoping that their vote will keep the credit rating agencies from knocking IL down to "junk" bond status.

Preliminary tests showed that it wasn't, said a spokesman for Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White.

One side effect of the House votes is resumption of sales of Mega Millions and Powerball lottery tickets by the Illinois State Lottery.

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