Illinois House members went from “doomsday” to “middle-of-the-road” when they approved a scaled-back budget for 2015.
The 35.7 billion dollar budget now goes to the State Senate. Lawmakers say this budget will lead to layoffs and more delays in paying the state’s bills. House Democrats came up with the bill after Speaker Michael Madigan said he had given up on efforts to extend a temporary income tax increase, which will carve $1.8 billion from next year’s budget.
Illinois has slowly been digging itself out of a multi-year backlog of such bills. Representative Greg Harris, a Democrat from Chicago, says that situation will probably get worse.
"People are going to continue to come in the door. People will not stop being disabled. People will not stop getting elderly simply because we don't have the ability to raise the revenue to pay for it."
Harris also says increased costs mean state agencies could be forced into layoffs -- he says that could be "thousands" of employees.
Senate President John Cullerton says a vote to make the income tax hike permanent or create a new major revenue stream could come back next fall…after the November election.
Republican State Senator Dave Syverson of Rockford opposes that idea. But he suspects that's what might happen. He says there are ways to prevent drastic cuts without the added tax revenue:
“We have pointed out areas where there can be hundreds of millions of dollars of savings without it affecting core services for education, mental health services, health care.”
Fellow Rockford Senator, Democrat Steve Stadelman, says he's not sure yet whether he would support an extension of the tax increase. In the meantime, he says lawmakers should proceed with the thought that the money won't be there:
“What the final numbers are and how you go about avoiding those cuts, that needs to be part of the final package.”
To avoid an overtime session, lawmakers must adopt a budget by Saturday.