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Legislators pass fiscal plan in overtime session

The state budget now heads to Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Staff leave floor of the Illinois House of Representatives after the budget is passed around midnight on the last day of session at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield early Tuesday.
Staff leave floor of the Illinois House of Representatives after the budget is passed around midnight on the last day of session at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield early Tuesday.
Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP

SPRINGFIELD — State lawmakers approved a $42.2 billion spending plan for the next fiscal year, sending it to Gov. J.B. Pritzker early Tuesday.

Legislators in the House didn’t take up the proposed budget, and its accompanying capital plan, until shortly after 11:30 p.m. Monday. House Majority Leader Greg Harris, D-Chicago, said the bill had a total revenue estimate of $42.3 billion and set overall spending for the next fiscal year at $42.2 billion.

The House approved the budget proposal 72-to-44, along with a budget implementation bill, which it passed 73-to-44.

Earlier Monday, Harris had told the House Executive Committee that the Democrats’ proposed budget, Senate Bill 2800, has no tax increases and pays down $2 billion of the state’s $3.2 billion bill backlog.

“I will admit, and I own up to right away, that we were very fortunate,” Harris said, also praising President Joe Biden for his COVID-19 relief plans. “Our revenues came in far, far higher than our very conservative estimates we made.”

Harris said the roughly $1.5 billion in federal funds used in the budget is “one-time money,” and the budget uses it only to “pay one-time expenses.”

“We realize . . . that money is a precious resource, and we want to use it wisely, we want to use it strategically,” Harris said. “We realized this was a fund that would have to last for years, so we did not want to spend it all in the first year.”

Deputy Republican Leader Tom Demmer, of Dixon, questioned Harris on the proposal on the House floor, saying that there’s $1 billion set aside in the budget for capital projects solely for Democrats even though “each of us, in every district in Illinois, have constituents who pay federal taxes,” Demmer said.

Demmer said that’s “not the way things should be handled.”

“We’ve talked many times in this chamber about it being a new day,” Demmer said. “The only new day is going to happen in 5 minutes when the clock strikes midnight because what we’re seeing on this floor is the same dark, old days that we’ve struggled under for years. This is not appropriate.”

The Senate advanced the budget early Tuesday, voting 37-to-21. The budget implementation bill was also passed, in a 38-to-19 vote.

Expenditures for money from the American Rescue Plan Act in the proposed budget include $578 million in economic recovery for businesses, $183 million for public health infrastructure and $104 million in affordable housing.

Harris said the budget is relying on closing “a small handful” of what Pritzker called “corporate tax loopholes” in his proposed budget.

These include reversing the repeal of the Corporate Franchise Tax, eliminating accelerated depreciation, and a “loophole that advantages foreign dividends over domestic dividends.”

In February, the governor unveiled his budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year during a virtual State of the State address, proposing the closure of some “corporate tax loopholes” and reducing some state departments’ spending to help fill a nearly $3 billion budget gap.

Missing from that proposed spending plan are an increase in the state’s income tax rate or the “painful cuts” he warned of after his proposed move to a graduated income tax failed to pass in November.