Illinois state lawmakers inch ahead on passing fiscal plan

Illinois state lawmakers inch ahead on passing fiscal plan

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SPRINGFIELD — Lawmakers inched closer to implementing a spending plan for Illinois’ next fiscal year, passing a budget implementation plan out of committee in the waning hours of the legislative session.

By 9:40 p.m. Monday night, neither chamber had passed the proposed budget, which House Majority Leader Greg Harris, D-Chicago, said had a total revenue estimate of $41.3 billion.

Earlier Monday, Harris told the House Executive Committee that 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. 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.”

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.”

The budget passed out of committee in a partisan 9-to-6 vote and will likely be taken up by lawmakers Monday night.

In February, Gov. J.B. Pritzker 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.

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