Illinois lawmakers head back to Springfield tomorrow for the first time since they adjourned last spring. They have a lot of issues on the table, including how the state will handle the budgetary hit it will take when the temporary income tax increase expires at the end of December.
The state took in over a billion dollars more in taxes than the prior year, thanks to an uptick in sales tax money. Personal income tax revenue also rose , but the amount coming from corporate income taxes dropped. It's something Jim Muschinske, a budget forecaster for the state, said was predicted.
"That was not unexpected. In fact, we actually did better this fiscal year than what was initially assumed back when the budget was passed," Muschinske said.
The credit rating agency Moody's says Illinois is at risk of undermining progress toward better finances. It says the failure to extend current income tax rates could lead to a worsening deficit.
Moody's says because lawmakers failed to stop an automatic tax cut scheduled for the end of the year, Illinois could have to increase its backlog of unpaid bills. The state already has the lowest credit rating in the nation.
Republicans say this shows Illinois needs to further reduce costs, but Democratic Senate President John Cullerton says there isn't that much left to cut.
Democrats wanted to use the higher income tax rate to prop up the state budget. Instead, they turned to "interfund borrowing" which involves taking funds from hundreds of small pools of money earmarked for specific purposes.
Senator Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) doesn't support the idea.
"I'm concerned about how you're raising the money for those funds and whether or not you're spending the money from those funds the way you told the taxpayers or the contributors to that fund that you would spend it."
UPDATE: Lawmakers adjourned shortly after midnight, shortly after approving a billion dollar road construction program. The Illinois Senate joined the House in approving a 35.7-million dollar budget for 2015. Democrats acknowledge the budget is incomplete, and no Republicans supported it in Friday afternoon's Senate vote.
With just six days remaining before the scheduled summer adjournment, the state budget remains the top issue.
Lawmakers face few choices: slash spending on things like education and health care, or vote to make the current five percent income tax rate permanent. It's scheduled to drop by more than a percentage point at the end of the year.
Democrats have been unable to find the votes needed to pass a tax extension in the House. Proponents of that approach, like Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), hope their reluctant colleagues heard from constituents over the weekend.
The Illinois House overwhelmingly rejected a so-called "doomsday budget" today -- one that does NOT rely on extending 20-11's income tax hike. It would have imposed deep cuts across Illinois government.
Illinois lawmakers are going back to the drawing board on a state spending plan. Although Gov. Pat Quinn and top Democrats have been pushing for an extension of a higher income tax rate, House Speaker Michael Madigan says there isn't enough support for that.
With Republicans uniformly opposed to keeping Illinois income tax rate at 5 percent -- instead of letting it drop as scheduled at the end of the year -- both Quinn and Madigan have been working to get 60 Democratic members of the House on board.