David Harris

BRIAN MACKEY / NPR ILLINOIS

Passing a state budget is arguably the most important thing the Illinois General Assembly does every year — or at least should do every year.

After last year's drama — when a two-year standoff ended with a Republican revolt against Governor Bruce Rauner — it's an open question about how things will go this year.

So I set out to answer a simple question: Will there be another impasse?

The question may sound simple, but the answer, like most things in state government, is complicated.

Brian Mackey/NPR Illinois

State Rep. David Harris is the latest in a growing list of Illinois lawmakers who say they’re not running for re-election.

Harris, R-Arlington Heights, has been attacked for breaking with his party to raise taxes and end the state's two-year budget impasse.

“The fact that we now have a budget, I think, is a good thing," Harris said Wednesday in a telephone interview. "It prevented the state from going to the status of junk bonds, which would have been disastrous."

Harris said he’s worried the Republican Party has become too divided.

Brian Mackey/NPR Illinois

Part of the recently passed state budget calls for borrowing to pay down more than $14 billion in outstanding bills — saving the state millions in late payment penalties.

But Gov. Rauner has to start that process, and this week he cast doubt on whether he will.

“More borrowing, in and of itself, is not the answer," Rauner told reporters Monday.

Those overdue bills were a big factor in why many Republicans defied Rauner to help Democrats pass the budget.

Rep. David Harris, R-Arlington Heights, points to the $800 million in penalties accumulated by the state. 

Brian Mackey/NPR Illinois

Illinois’ two-year budget impasse is over. The House of Representatives on Thursday overrode the governor's budget veto, giving final approval to a spending plan and tax increase.

After two years of stalemate, more than a dozen Republicans broke with Gov. Bruce Rauner.

They joined Democrats to pass a $5-billion dollar tax increase.

The governor had been holding out for his business-friendly agenda, but some Republicans, like Rep. David Harris, from Arlington Heights, say time’s up.