Republicans lining up votes for $5 billion tax hike

Republicans lining up votes for $5 billion tax hike

House Minority Leader Jim Durkin said he’s putting GOP votes on the spending plan that relies on more than $5 billion in new taxes.

Lawmakers will be in session Saturday to take up the final pieces of what could be a $5 billion tax increase to pay for a $36.5 billion spending bill, and Republicans are lining up votes.

Following a bipartisan vote in the House to amend the Democrat’s $36.5 billion spending plan, Speaker Michael Madigan said lawmakers should expect to be in tomorrow.

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“I think it’s a good step forward, a step that we can work upon. There’s much work yet to be done,” Madigan said. “Momentarily, I will send a message to the bond rating agencies asking them to defer any further opinions relative to the credit rating of the state of Illinois until we’ve had sufficient time to finalize our budget making.”

It’s been two years since the state has had a fully balanced annual budget. Lawmakers missed their original deadline of May 31 to pass a budget for the next fiscal year and they’ll miss tonight’s midnight deadline as well.

Bond ratings agencies have said if the state doesn’t have a budget by the end of the day, the state’s bonds could be downgraded to junk status.

House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, said he’s putting GOP votes on the spending plan that relies on more than $5 billion in new taxes.

“We are close,” Durkin said. “We are so close I can taste it.”

But his caucus wasn’t entirely on board. State Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, said the proposed budget continues to fund bad government behavior.

“This budget is a disaster, and this budget is the death knell for Illinois,” Ives said. “It tells every taxpayer who’s capable of moving from the state of Illinois it’s time to pick up stakes and leave. That’s what this budget does.”

Rep. David McSweeny, R-Barrington Hills, echoed Ives sentiments.

“Obviously, things are heading in the wrong direction,” McSweeney said. “Today, the Republicans in the General Assembly raised the white flag to a massive tax increase.”

All House Democrats and 23 Republicans voted for the measure.

The proposed spending doesn’t address the state’s $15 billion bill backlog.

Legislative leaders will meet again today, where tax increases could be discussed. Then they’re back at it Saturday, the first day of the new fiscal year.

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