SPRINGFIELD — In an about-face, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan on Saturday said he’d call a vote Sunday for a “revenue package” that includes an income-tax increase — despite the Democratic speaker earlier announcing budget bills wouldn’t be moved this weekend.
The development marked the latest dysfunction in the budget stalemate that has entered its third year and has put state government on the brink of exorbitant borrowing costs and other financial calamities. Despite the major credit agencies threatening to drop the state to “junk” status, lawmakers began a new fiscal year on Saturday with no budget in place.
Madigan’s revenue announcement came after two legislative leaders meetings — and top Republican sources claiming the speaker had cut off all negotiations.
Instead, Madigan implored that he was “encouraged” by progress made with leaders.
“Building on this progress and Friday’s overwhelmingly bipartisan budget vote, the House will be voting Sunday on a revenue package that is modeled on the bill supported by the governor, and House and Senate Republicans in their recent announcement of their budget blueprint, and ensures a balanced budget for our state,” Madigan said in a statement.
Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said he had “no knowledge” of claims that the speaker had stopped negotiations, saying Madigan planned to meet again with leaders on Sunday. He said the “revenue package” is “the one that the Republicans endorsed.”
“It could be modeled on that,” Brown said. “There may be some changes.”
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Top Republicans last month offered up a “compromise” budget plan, which included a four-year property tax freeze. While it assumed an income tax hike, Republicans never filed a revenue bill. Gov. Bruce Rauner has said he won’t sign a budget without a property tax freeze tied to a four-year income tax hike.
The revenue measure the Senate Democrats approved included hiking the personal income tax from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent. There’s also a bump in the corporate income tax to 7 percent from 5.25 percent.
State Rep. Greg Harris, Madigan’s appointed budget negotiator, on Saturday confirmed the House would vote on an amendment he filed Thursday to the Senate’s revenue bill. While the income tax rate hike in that bill remains at 4.95 percent, streaming and satellite fees were removed. He said it closed corporate tax loopholes, increased the earned income tax credit, and restored the research and development and manufacturers’ tax credit to attract more businesses.
State Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields, was surprised to hear the “revenue package” would be called. Hutchinson, who sponsored the Senate’s revenue bill, said it shows the “fluidity” of budget talks.
Hutchinson said recent negotiations about the revenue bill weren’t about elements in the measure but more about what Republicans wanted passed before they could declare support for an income tax hike.
“What we’re going to end up seeing when there’s final votes on this is that you will see Democrats who refuse to vote on revenue, and you’ll see some Republicans who change their minds,” Hutchinson said. “It’s going to be one of those situations where people are voting based on their districts and based on what they believe is the right course of action moving forward.”
Meanwhile, Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin in a statement urged Democrats to “remain at the negotiating table.”
“There is no agreement on a comprehensive budget package that includes reforms and revenue. This impasse can only be resolved in a negotiated manner,” Durkin said.
Earlier Saturday, as mounting frustrations erupted on the floor, Madigan told state representatives they will be back in session on Sunday — but said he’s not ready to call budget bills for a vote.
“I still contend that these matters be resolved very quickly,” Durkin told the speaker. “I want this done today.”
House Republicans gave Durkin a standing ovation, with the majority of House Democrats also rising to applaud his call to get the deal done.
As the two leaders walked off the floor to meet privately, state Rep. Grant Wehrli, a vocal Madigan critic, shouted “Speaker Junk.” That was met with resistance from some House Republicans. Republican floor leader state Rep. Steve Anderson screamed, “Knock it off.”
Saturday’s events crimped the optimism that seemed to be building in the Capitol on Friday, when the House moved forward a $36.5 billion spending plan with 23 GOP lawmakers voting yes.
Legislators, too, stayed well into the night on Friday to continue negotiations on several key issues, including workers’ compensation and revenue.