Senate holds off on budget deal vote


Senate holds off on budget deal vote
  1. Senate holds off on budget deal vote
    pantagraph.com
    SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Senate won’t vote on a proposed bipartisan compromise to end the state’s 18-month budget standoff until after the new General Assembly takes office on Wedne…
    Illinois (IL)

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Senate won’t vote on a proposed bipartisan compromise to end the state’s 18-month budget standoff until after the new General Assembly takes office on Wednesday.

Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, agreed to hold off on a vote due to concerns among Republicans about voting on a major package of legislation that included tax increases during the waning days of the current General Assembly.

“We in the Senate recognize the problems (facing the state), and we are potentially close to an agreement on how to solve them, but we’re not quite there,” Cullerton said Monday during a joint news conference with Radogno.

He said the plan is to refile legislation that was filed Monday and to move it as quickly as possible to the Senate floor for approval.

The House, meanwhile, passed another temporary spending plan Monday that would provide funding for social services and higher education through June, when the state’s fiscal year ends.

The package that was introduced Monday in the Senate would increase the state’s personal income tax rate from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent and the corporate rate from 5.25 percent to 7 percent. Another component would provide an additional $740 million in funding for social services and $1.1 billion for higher education for the remainder of the state’s current fiscal year.

The Senate also is considering legislation that would authorize borrowing $7 billion to help pay down the state’s backlog of unpaid bills, which currently stands at $11 billion.

Also included are pension reforms that Cullerton has advocated, an increase in the state’s minimum wage from $8.25 an hour to $11 an hour by 2021, and changes that would make it easier to consolidate units of local government.

A gambling expansion measure would create licenses for six new casinos, including one for the proposed Walker’s Bluff resort and casino in southern Illinois’ Williamson County and another for the south suburbs of Chicago.

The final package also could include changes to the state’s workers’ compensation laws, a referendum on amending the Illinois Constitution to limit lawmakers to 10 years in top legislative leadership positions, and an overhaul of the way the state funds public schools.

Cullerton said the package is designed so that it only goes into effect if all the pieces are approved.

Radogno said these discussions represent progress amid the ongoing impasse between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

“One of the big takeaways from this is for the first we’re acknowledging that we really do need to link the reforms, the revenue and the budget all together,” she said. “Starting with that premise, we’ve made tremendous progress on areas of agreement.”

Radogno said she believes there will be Republican votes on all the pieces of the final package, but members were concerned about voting on it quickly during the lame-duck session.

Because of the timing, there was almost no chance of the package being taken up in the House before the current General Assembly’s term ends. But passing it would have sent a message that senators on both sides of the aisle were willing to compromise to end the standoff.

The crux of the impasse has been Rauner’s insistence that portions of his pro-business, union-weakening “turnaround agenda” be included in budget negotiations and Democrats opposition to linking the two.

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