As the Spring Session nears its end, the House and Senate agree on a state spending plan, but a decision on keeping the state income tax at its current level will probably be held off until after November. Also, House Speaker Madigan suggests divorcing the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum from the Illinois State Historic Preservation Agency.
The budget being expected to be pushed through the General Assembly Friday does not count on extending the 2011 income tax hike. But Republicans say they can "see through" the Democrats' plan to revisit the income tax after the November election.
After Democratic leadership gave up on attempting to keep Illinois income tax at five percent, the House pushed through what Democrats call a "middle of the road" budget. It taps into other revenue sources and relies on delaying payments to vendors in order to keep spending relatively flat.
The Illinois House overwhelmingly rejected a so-called "doomsday budget" Friday — one that does not rely on extending 2011's income tax hike. It would have imposed deep cuts across Illinois government.
It was the budget that few legislators — Democrat or Republican — actually wanted to pass. It would have slashed education and other government services.
But the budget did not pass. In fact, only five lawmakers voted for the stripped-down budget, including Rep. Fred Crespo, from Hoffman Estates.
Advocates for nursing homes say if Illinois does not keep income tax rates where they are, thousands of seniors could lose access to care. But it's not yet clear whether the General Assembly will make the tax hike permanent.
Lawmakers have a little less than a month to pass a budget for the next fiscal year -- a budget that nursing homes rely on to subsidize their operations.
Advocates say if the state's income tax is allowed to roll back as scheduled at the end of the year, nursing homes are projected to take a 14 percent funding cut.
The governor of Illinois, as well as the man who wants to take his job, were both in Springfield Wednesday. What they were doing offers a clear picture of the different directions they want to take the state.
Republican Bruce Rauner was in town to file petitions for his term limits proposal. Then he addressed a meeting of business groups holding an "Employer Action Day."
"Let's make Illinois the most attractive state to do business, rather than one of the most hostile states to do business," he said. "Nothing else more important than that. Number one priority by far."
As more baby-boomers retire, Illinois is increasingly missing out on a revenue source. Of the 41 states with an income tax, Illinois is one of only three that exempt all pension income.
A new report from the Chicago-based Civic Federation says Illinois needs to take a longer-term approach to budgeting; one that is rooted less in politics, and more in reality. Most notably. the group recommends Illinois extend its current income tax rate for a year before gradually rolling it back.