SPRINGFIELD-House Democrats Thursday readied their doomsday state budget plan for a possible floor vote Friday despite signals from House Speaker Michael Madigan earlier Thursday that no action would take place on a stripped-down spending plan until next week.
A top Madigan aide and a chairman of a House appropriations committee each confirmed the possibility of House members heading into the long Memorial Day weekend after voting on a vastly scaled back, $34 billion spending package – a plan some House Democrats privately are calling a “pretend budget.”
The budget alternative would contain spending cuts for education and other social programs necessitated by the failure, at least thus far, in rounding up enough Democratic votes to extend existing income-tax rates for individuals and corporations that roll back in January.
“That’s what the speaker has indicated to the appropriations working groups,” Madigan spokesman Steve Brown told Early & Often, the Chicago Sun-Times’ online political portal.
Last week, the House voted on a series of appropriations bills totaling more than $38 billion, but no action was taken on an income-tax extension as Madigan and Gov. Pat Quinn worked on building a 60-vote House roll call.
On Wednesday, Madigan surveyed his 71-member House Democratic caucus and found that only 34 said they supported plans to keep the 5-percent individual and 7-percent corporate income-tax rates from dropping to 3.75 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively, on Jan. 1.
During a House hearing Thursday, Madigan resisted calling the income-tax extension dead for the spring legislative session, which is scheduled to adjourn May 31.
“I don’t want to be quoted as the one who killed the governor’s proposal,” the speaker said.
Madigan later repeated to reporters that efforts were underway on creating an “alternative” budget that would strip out revenue numbers that had been built on the assumption of existing income-tax rates being extended.
Asked when he expected House action on that scaled-back budget, Madigan said, “We would hope sometime next week.”
But later, reflecting an apparent shift in plans on a vote on the “alternative” budget, state Rep. Fred Crespo, D-Hoffman Estates, told Early & Often, “I would imagine that this would be coming up for a vote Friday.” Crespo heads the House Appropriations-General Services Committee, one of the key budget-writing panels in the House.