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Illinois Legislature Passes Wait-And-See Budget

The Illinois Capitol in Springfield
Flickr | jglazer75
The Illinois Capitol building in Springfield, Ill. In this building today, the Illinois House of Representatives voted on a bill to abolish the death penalty in the state. (via Flickr/jglazer75)

No one says the $35.7 billion 2015 budget approved by the Illinois Legislature late last week is balanced. As the Belleville News Democrat reported, “Democratic Sen. Dan Kotowski, a Senate budget negotiator, described the plan as ‘incomplete’ but the best lawmakers could do this session. He said legislators will have to either find additional funds in the next year or cut at least $4.4 billion in expenses -- an amount some lawmakers say could lead to thousands of layoffs, closing facilities and slashing programs.”

The state’s revenue picture is key to the Illinois gubernatorial election.

Incumbent Pat Quinn, a Democrat, wants to make a 2011 income tax hike permanent while Republican Bruce Rauner wants to "step down" the increase. The revenue decline will occur in the second half of fiscal 2015 as the personal income tax rate falls to 3.75 percent from 5 percent and the corporate rate drops to 5.25 percent from 7 percent

As reported by the Chicago Tribune:

  • "I wouldn't be surprised if what's going through the Democrats' minds is, 'We'll limp through the election and if (Rauner) wins, screw him. And if Quinn wins, we'll help him out,'" said Charles N. Wheeler III, a professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield and a longtime statehouse observer.

The budget wasn't the only issue, though the session didn't produce a lot. The General Assembly approved $1 billion for road and bridge projects,  and passed bills that allow election-day voter registration and restore dental and podiatry care to the Medicaid program

The fall ballot is also likely to have as many as seven issues for the voters to have their say on :

These include

1 – should the state’s $8.25 minimum wage go up to $10 (advisory) 

2- should millionaires be taxed at a higher rate (advisory) 

3 – term limits (constitutional amendment)

Donna Korando started work in journalism at SIU’s Daily Egyptian in 1968. In between Carbondale and St. Louis Public Radio, she taught high school in Manitowoc, Wis., and worked at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the copy editor and letters editor for the editorial page from 1973-77. As an editorial writer from 1977-87, she covered Illinois and city politics, education, agriculture, family issues and sub-Saharan Africa. When she was editor of the Commentary Page from 1987-2003, the page won several awards from the Association of Opinion Page Editors. From 2003-07, she headed the features copy desk.

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