Day 2: Illinois House and Senate adjourn special session after only 23 minutes

Day 2: Illinois House and Senate adjourn special session after only 23 minutes

Less than 43 minutes of work over two days has cost Illinois taxpayers $100,000.

Special session lasted just 23 minutes in the Illinois House of Representatives and the Senate combined on day two of the 10-day session Gov. Bruce Rauner called with the aim of passing a state budget.

The House adjourned from the special session after only 10 minutes and 41 seconds. The Senate met for 11 minutes and 54 seconds before gaveling out. Both chambers met for a combined total of less than 20 minutes on the first day of special session.

Each day of special session costs Illinois taxpayers about $50,000, according to an estimate from the Chicago Tribune.

While the Senate might have officially been in special session, attendance was sparse, with fewer than 20 senators on the floor, according to NBC 5 Chicago’s Mary Ann Ahern.

During the Senate’s 11 minutes and 54 seconds of special session, lawmakers introduced their summer interns.

After adjourning special session, the House entered executive session where they proceeded to vote on a series of non-binding resolutions. These included House Resolution 267, which declares Southern Illinois as the “Eclipse Crossroads of America” and Aug. 21 as “Great American Eclipse Day 2017” in Illinois; House Resolution 290, which reaffirms the state’s commitment to enhanced bilateral cooperation and deeper social and trade interactions with the government and people of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas; and House Resolution 293, which declares May 7-13 to be “Illinois Hospital Week” in Illinois.

A frustrated state Rep. Peter Breen, R-Lombard, remarked on the House floor: “Ladies and gentlemen, we are 700 days without a budget. What the hell are we doing voting on these damn resolutions. Why are we not doing the budget?”

The special session lasts until June 30, when the current fiscal year expires.

Both parties claim to want a compromise on a budget to prevent Illinois from becoming the first state with a junk credit rating. However, Democrats and Republicans alike have proposed plans to raise taxes by more than $5 billion, which would increase the average Illinois household’s tax burden by $1,125 each year. But Illinoisans have expressed that they don’t want a budget that hikes taxes.

Nearly two-thirds of likely Illinois voters don’t want an income tax hike as part of the state budget, according to polling conducted by Fabrizio, Lee & Associates and commissioned by the Illinois Policy Institute. More than three-quarters of respondents oppose hiking sales taxes. And nearly 80 percent agree “Illinois state lawmakers should pass major structural reforms before passing any tax increase.”

The Illinois Policy Institute has introduced a budget proposal that offers real reform without raising taxes. This kind of reform-minded, no-tax-hike proposal is in line with what Illinoisans want. Lawmakers should use that as a framework while taxpayers pay for their costly special session.

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