|Before noon on Friday, May 30, Illinoisans had not seen a single line of the state budget.
But by Saturday morning, they learned they were on the hook for a 1,581 page spending plan that will cost a record $40 billion. The Illinois House and Senate passed the budget on a bipartisan vote of 83-35 and 40-19, respectively. Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to sign it into law.
Meanwhile, the Illinois Senate passed a $45 billion infrastructure package that includes new spending on bridges, roads and state facilities. The House could vote on that plan as early as today.
The tax hikes needed to pay for that infrastructure plan include doubling the state’s motor fuel tax – which would make Illinois’ total gas tax burden the second-highest in the nation – as well as hiking vehicle registration fees, parking taxes, cigarette taxes, imposing a new tax on streaming services such as Netflix, and more. This revenue package has not yet come up for a vote.
The need for a true balanced budget amendment and spending cap in Illinois has never been clearer. Without constitutional restraints, state lawmakers have continued to push a backwards budgeting process that prioritizes the politically powerful over basic transparency and deliberation.
In a committee hearing on the budget, state Rep. Grant Wehrli, R-Naperville, questioned House Democratic Majority Leader Greg Harris on the state’s budget process.
“It is clear as mud,” Wehrli said. “Year after year after year we play hide the money because somebody’s getting rich. People make money off of this chaos we call state government.”