SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Illinois Senate voted to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s vetoes of a $36 billion budget package Tuesday, including a $5 billion tax increase designed to start digging out of the nation’s longest budget crisis since at least the Great Depression.
The Democratic-controlled chamber completed its work within 30 minutes of the Republican governor’s vetoes, sending the package back to the House for an override vote that would give Illinois its first annual budget since 2015.
The House did not plan to take up the action Tuesday.
“The package of legislation fails to address Illinois’ fiscal and economic crisis — and in fact, makes it worse in the long run,” the first-term governor wrote after his veto of the tax-increase bill. “It does not balance the budget. It does not make nearly sufficient spending reductions.”
Rauner acted about three hours after the Senate voted to hike the personal income tax rate by 32 percent, from 3.75 percent to just under 5 percent. Corporations would pay 7 percent instead of just over 5 percent.
“We are at a moment in time. We are faced today with the fierce urgency of ‘now,”‘ said the tax increase legislation’s sponsor, Sen. Toi Hutchinson of Olympia Fields. “We don’t have any more time. And too late is not good enough.”
The House OK’d the tax increase with 72 votes on Sunday, one more than necessary, with the help of 15 Republicans. Whether they’ll continue to defy Rauner remains to be seen. House Speaker Michael Madigan told WICS-TV that there would be no House action Tuesday.
Rauner promised to veto the tax measure because Democrats who control the General Assembly have not agreed to resolve his pet issues, including statewide property tax relief, cost reductions in workers’ compensation and benefits for state-employee pensions, and an easier process for dissolving or eliminating local governments.
“It’s regrettable that I stand here today not capable of being able to support this package, not because what’s in the package is bad, but because it’s incomplete,” said the Senate’s newly minted minority leader, Bill Brady of Bloomington. “We need a comprehensive budget package with reforms.”
If Rauner doesn’t like the tax plan, the financial world does. On Monday, two of the nation’s top credit-ratings agencies signaled it would be a good idea for Rauner to accept the results. Fitch Ratings and S&P Global Ratings, having earlier threatened to move Illinois’ creditworthiness into “junk” status without swift action to approve a budget, smiled favorably on the financial outlook.
Democrats and Republicans have negotiated the issues that Rauner considers outstanding in the two weeks since the special session began. But the GOP claims talks broke down over the weekend in advance of Madigan calling the budget votes. Madigan said Monday that those talks were ongoing.
“We’ll continue to work with the Republicans on those issues until they’re resolved,” Madigan said.