Illinois Senate passes budget plan, sends bill to House

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ByCraig Wall via WLS logo
Thursday, May 31, 2018
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The Illinios Senate was expected to vote on a budget proposal Wednesday.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- Illinois lawmakers appeared close to reaching a budget deal Wednesday night, just ahead of the end of the legislative session on Thursday.

The Senate passed the $38 billion budget plan in a Wednesday night vote, 56-2.

"This is an important step forward. This budget helps restore stability to Illinois, which is what we need. There remains more work to do, but this is a bipartisan accomplishment that we can hopefully build upon," said Illinois Senate President John Cullerton.

The House is expected to take up the budget on Thursday and send it to Gov. Bruce Rauner, who is believed to sign it late Thursday.

If signed, this would be the first budget deal completed on time in Rauner's three years in office.

"I think we've come very close to something I think the governor can support, as they say, in many cases the devil's in the details, but I'm quite optimistic," said Sen. Bill Brady, Senate Republican Leader.

Wednesday afternoon, lawmakers discussed some last-minute changes to the nearly bipartisan spending package. The proposal includes some cuts to many different agencies, but nothing considered drastic.

The budget does include the $350 million public school funding that was part of the reform package passed last year. It also includes increases for higher education and for the Quincy Veterans Home which has been plagued by problems with Legionnaires disease.

However, it will include cuts to corrections and other departments.

Budget negotiators, as well as the four legislative leaders, have been working on the budget for several months.

"I'm incredibly impressed with how much work has gone in on both sides of the aisle to try to get us to this point where were passing a budget that's going to be balanced, going to have a spending authority, and is going to sort of fulfill all the needs we have to do," said Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park.

The budget does spend all of the revenue from the 32 percent tax hike approved last year, which angers some Republicans.

"We need to cut spending, we're spending way too much money in the state, we need to cut taxes. This budget continues the 32 percent increase in income tax. People are leaving this state, taxes are way too high," said state Rep. David Sweeney, R-Barrington Hills.

With the election looming in November, there is pressure on Rauner to sign this budget.

"You've gone three years in his tenure without a budget, he hasn't ever signed a budget, so going into an election having that he went four years without signing a budget could be detrimental. So he needs this as much as the state of Illinois needs this," Cullerton said.