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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

Illinois Senate Approves Tax Hike, $37B Budget Plan

Flickr user Pictures of Money / "Money" (CC BY 2.0)

With only a week to go before the scheduled end of the spring session, Democrats in the Illinois Senate passed a new $37.3 billion budget package Tuesday that would raise the state income tax by $5 billion and cut some spending.

But it got no Republican support, and its future is uncertain.

The Senate voted on a different budget proposal last week, and it failed. So, Democrats tabled their negotiations with Republicans and went for a plan that matches the spending level of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s own budget proposal from earlier in the year.  

Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields, said there's little time left, and the House must have a chance to debate the budget before the scheduled May 31 adjournment. She sponsored the bill that increases the personal income tax from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent. Under the bill, sales taxes would be applied to certain services for the first time.

Spending plan sponsor Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, says the $37.3 billion spending outline matches what Rauner introduced in February. She says many of the $3 billion in spending reductions were proposed by the GOP.

Senate President John Cullerton says that should be a win for the governor.

“I don’t think he’s going to criticize this budget,” Cullerton said, “and he really can’t criticize the taxes that he asked for.”

But Rauner already has -- tweeting before the vote that he won’t sign a budget that doesn’t include relief for property taxes.

Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, says the latest vote is theater on the part of Democrats.

“You folks will get up and express your need to say, ‘Wow, we gotta get this done,’ and then when you are done with that — come back,” Righter said. “We will still be sitting at the table ready to talk about a bipartisan solution to these things.”

Cullerton says he’s open to more negotiations on property taxes.

The package adds more money for schools, hikes the income tax by more than 30 percent, and adds sales taxes to more services. However, it leaves out a property tax freeze.

But the budget plan now heads to the House. A statement from Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan says the Senate plan will be "thoughtfully considered."

Illinois is nearing two years without a full budget. ?

  • Illinois Public Radio's Tom Lisi and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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