Senate passes budget that includes increases in spending

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — The Illinois Senate passed the budget for the next fiscal year.

The budget is built on 53 billion dollars in spending, a 1.6 percent increase over last fiscal year. It continues a trend of increased spending since Governor J.B. Pritzker took office. Lead budgeteer for the Senate Democrats Elgie Sims said this state continues other trends, too.

“In this budget, we continue to create the economic climate that has led to nine credit upgrades, and an economy that tops 1 trillion dollars,” Sims (D-Chicago) said. “This budget addresses the challenges we face today. while preparing us for the next generation.”

But Republicans pointed to the increase in spending as a sign of an out-of-touch administration.

“Since J.B. Pritzker has gotten here, spending has gone up by $13 billion in six years,” Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) said. “These people are out of control.”

Sims highlighted additional investments in education — $20 billion in total with a $350 million increase increase in K-12 education. He also said the budget will fully pay off the state’s pension obligation for the year, and contribute another nearly $200 million to the state’s rainy day fund.

The budget also includes the staples of Governor Pritzker’s February proposal, including money to begin structuring his new Early Childhood government agency, and $500 million dollars for a “quantum campus”, where the Governor hopes to attract a number of businesses to build on Illinois’ reputation in the growing computing field.

To help cover the increases in spending, the state also approved just under one billion dollars in revenue adjustments. The plan includes a change to the tax on sports betting company revenue to a graduated structure and a cap on the amount of money retailers can claim as a discount for collecting sales tax.

The revenue bill also includes a child tax credit for families with children 12 years old and younger.

Republicans took aim at the revenue package during all of their floor speeches.

“This year’s budget from a governor that refuses to control spending, and continues to view the taxpayers of Illinois and the businesses of this state as his personal ATM machine to find a political wish list as he shines his lights on his trek to Washington,:” Sen. Don Dewitte (R-West Dundee) said.

The budget also includes spending to help manage the influx of migrants the state has seen bussed in from the border. Earlier this year, the Governor Pritzker committed $182 million to help create shelter space and provide resources for the growing migrant population. It also includes $440 million for a healthcare program for non citizens. This program began independently from the start of the migrant crisis, but has proven to be more expensive than initial projections showed when the plan first passed. Spending in this area was also a major target for Republicans.

“A budget is a list of priorities, and this budget passed by the Democratic Majority prioritizes newly arrived non-citizens over the taxpayers we were elected to represent,” Senate Republican John Curran said in a statement following the vote. “It is patently unfair to raise taxes on Illinois families struggling to afford basic needs, and job creators fighting to keep people employed to pay for the migrant crisis Gov. Pritzker created.”

Democrats took longer than expected to come to a consensus on the budget. They blew past a self-imposed deadline on Friday. Then, Saturday went by with little movement, as well. The floor debate on the budget started Sunday night, with the final version of the budget being dropped just over an hour earlier.

Senate President Don Harmon called this budget negotiation a “doozy” during his final floor speech before adjourning.

“I think it’s a combination of things,” Harmon said. “Obviously, the economy is a little bit tighter. I think for so many of us who thought in the first year of the pandemic that the economy was going to careen off a cliff. When it didn’t, that created a different set of expectations. We were able to do an awful lot of things we hadn’t been able to do. And putting the state’s fiscal shift in shape was a huge part of it. And now that we are in a much more stable position, we aren’t able to do some of the more ambitious things that we were able to do during those unexpectedly robust years.”

After no floor action Saturday, House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch sent his members home. The House will return Tuesday to take up the budget.

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