For the third consecutive year, the General Assembly has adjourned on May 31 without passing a comprehensive and balanced budget for the state of Illinois, despite Republican lawmakers repeated requests that their Democrat counterparts remain at the negotiating table to come to a budget compromise. With legislative session expected to resume during the summer, State Senators Chris Nybo (R-Elmhurst) and Heather Steans (D-Chicago) sat down with Phil Ponce from WTTW Chicago Tonight to discuss the budget impasse and their outlooks on whether a bipartisan compromise will be reached.
“I want to stay as optimistic as possible that we’re going to do the full job that we’re elected to do,” said Nybo. “We made a lot of progress over the last couple months, but things broke down in the last week and a half of spring session. I think the parties moved in different directions, but I think if we can come back together and work together as we had in the last couple months, we can pass a balanced budget by June 30.”
The General Assembly is expected to return to the Capitol in June with the goal to pass a budget prior to fiscal year-end on June 30. Prior to adjournment, Illinois Senate Democrats approved a $5.4 billion income tax hike and more than $37 billion in state government spending. In order for State Representatives to push that—or any—budget legislation through the House to the Governor’s desk, they will need a three-fifths majority vote—which will require members from both parties to get on board.
Senate Republicans did not support the budget plan, citing the lack of accompanying structural reforms, such as significant property tax relief, to offset the Democrats’ $5.4 billion tax increase on residents and Illinois employers
“When you talk about property tax relief in comparison to $5.4 billion income tax increase, it pales in comparison,” said Nybo. “For some of us, if we are going to increase revenues to any extent, there needs to be meaningful property tax relief. The comment I heard the most from my residents is that two years just doesn’t cut it.”
While there have been talks of stopgap funding in lieu of a full-year budget, Governor Rauner has publicly expressed his desire to negotiate a full-year balanced budget proposal. Senate Republican lawmakers remain optimistic that the General Assembly can meet the June 30 fiscal year deadline.