Local politicians speak out on state budget

By JOSEPH PHILLIPS
Staff Writer

Tallying a final vote of 71-42 under the unity of bipartisanship, Illinois lawmakers approved a state budget of $36 billion dollars on Thursday, July 6, after two years of functioning without one in the state of Illinois.

“Today the Illinois legislature overrode Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto of the first balanced budget to reach his desk in three years,” said State Rep. Christian Mitchell.

“Republican legislators joined House Democrats and voted to defy the Governor and support the revenue necessary to continue critical services that people in my community rely on.”

Mitchell explained that services like child care assistance; energy bills assistance and meals on wheels programs for seniors are all huge concerns of his community. He said that underserved schools are in desperate need of funding and would love to see deserving kids from the community go to college.

“The implementation of this budget is just the first step that we need to take to recover from Rauner’s crisis,” said Mitchell. “It will require a great deal of time, hard work and resources to repair the governor’s damage, but it can be done by passing real policies that will fully fund our schools and provide opportunities for success to all people regardless of race, income or geography.”

An overview of the budget, which passed Thursday includes:

  • $2.5 billion in spending cuts, including 5 percent across the board cuts to state agencies and departments, plus reductions to various state programs, grants and other expenditures

An increase in state income taxes:

  • Changes the state income tax rates, closes tax loopholes and offers tax credits for low- and middle- income individuals and families. Total revenue: $36.4 billion
  • Personal income tax rate will go up to 4.95 percent from 3.75 percent. Generates $4.453 billion annually
  • This is a 1.2 percentage point increase, or a 32percent increase in the tax rate. Corporate income tax rate will go to 7 percent from 5.25 percent o Generates $514 million annually. Both changes are permanent and both are retroactive to July 1, 2017.

Funding relief for schools:

  • Ensures K-12 schools will open in the fall and includes money for an evidence-based school funding model
  • Offers stability to state universities and community colleges, which have not been fully funded in two years and have undergone dramatic cuts and tuition hikes, driving students to pursue degrees out of state Funds Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants for college students
  • Increases the cap on the Education Expense Credit to $750 per family from $500.
  • Creates a new tax credit of up to $250 for educators who use personal funds to purchase classroom supplies.

Changes in pension fund packages for some Chicago city employees:

  • $1.5 billion in pension savings

Compensation for Chicago nonprofits:

  • Pays down about $8 billion of the state’s backlog of unpaid bills – which currently stands at $15 billion – through a combination of borrowing and fund sweeps

Grants for Chicago college students and funding for colleges:

  • Offers stability to state universities and community colleges, which have not been fully funded in two years and have undergone dramatic cuts and tuition hikes, driving students to pursue degrees out of state ?Funds Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants for college students

“I was proud to stand with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle today,” said State Senator Kwame Raoul (D – 13) about the passing of the current state budget. “And vote for a balanced budget that will at long last restore stability to our state.”

The budget passed with a minimum number of votes by state lawmakers, this transpired after Rauner’s veto of the budget was overridden on July 4 by the Illinois State Senate.

“This budget did make significant cuts,” said State Reps. Barbara Flynn Currie (D – 25), “It also shows [we] the state of Illinois can pay off our bills.”

For more information on additional items that were passed under the new Illinois state budget, please visit Illinois General Assembly at ilga.gov.

j.phillips@hpherald.com