Illinois lawmakers worked into the early hours of April 9 to pass a $46.5 billion spending plan for the coming fiscal year, along with a $1.8 billion package of cuts mostly temporary taxes that Democrats say are intended to lessen the impact of inflation on working families. . After passing the budget, the legislature adjourned.
Republicans have criticized election-year tax cuts as gimmicks designed to help Democratic lawmakers navigate tough races.
“Let’s call this budget what it really is — an attempt to buy your vote,” Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods) said in a statement.
All but a handful of Republicans voted for the measure, but the GOP criticized it for being mostly temporary tax relief.
But State Rep. Mike Zalewski, (D-Riverside), disputed that criticism, noting that Republicans also voted for the temporary tax cuts.
“If this was an election year thing, then it was a bipartisan election year thing, because the state GOP lawmakers all voted for the tax cut bill,” he said. said Zalewski. “So I just don’t find much sympathy for the idea that these are all gimmicks when Republicans all voted for my tax cut bill.”
As chairman of the House Revenue Committee and lead sponsor of the tax-cut bill, Zalewski took some credit for improving the state’s fiscal position. Zalewski said it was Illinois’ best budget in a long time. The budget added $1 billion to the state’s depleted rainy day fund.
“I took over as chief revenue officer in 2017 and we were on the verge of insolvency, and now five years later we have the best budget in Illinois in a generation,” Zalewski said. “We are reducing taxes. I’m anticipating a credit upgrade and I won’t take full responsibility for it but I think I played my small part and I’m really proud of it.
Tax Relief Plan
Sen. Michael Hastings, (D-Frankfurt), hailed the tax relief package as “probably one of the most significant taxpayer savings we’ve seen in the last decade.”
The package would include $50 checks sent to Illinoisans earning less than $200,000 a year for single filers and $100 checks for those who jointly file and earn less than $400,000. Families would also receive $100 per dependent up to three.
It would also permanently extend the earned income tax credit to 20% of the federal credit, from 18% previously, at a cost of about $100 million a year. This would extend EITC eligibility to non-nationals who have an individual tax identification number rather than a social security number.
It also calls for doubling the property tax rebate for eligible homeowners, up to $300 per household, suspending a fuel tax increase of 2 to 3 cents for six months and suspending a produce tax. food by 1% for one year.
The fuel tax is the main source of funding for road construction projects, so lost revenue would be replaced by other public funds.
The budget would also suspend sales tax on qualifying back-to-school items and apparel for 10 days, August 5-14.
The spending plan for fiscal year 2023 also includes the additional $350 million required by law for public schools through the evidence-based funding formula that was originally adopted in 2017. Education higher would also experience increases.
The share of state income tax accruing to local authorities would increase from 6.06% to 6.16%.
The budget also directed a $235 million investment in US federal bailout funding for the Reimagine Public Safety Act aimed at early intervention against crime.
House Majority Leader Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) also praised the budget.
“It’s a balanced budget. It is a responsible budget. I know we are going to hear a lot of speeches. I know we’re going to hear a lot of stunts,” he said. “But for the people of Illinois, Democrats deliver, Democrats balance the budget. Rating agencies rate it, civic organizations rate it.
State revenues have been higher than expected this year. This was due in part to changes in consumer behavior triggered by the pandemic that led to more spending on taxable goods than untaxed services in the state, increased federal unemployment benefits that are taxed in the state level and increased tax revenue due to rising prices of consumer goods linked to inflation.
These and other factors led to better performance in sales tax and personal and corporate income tax revenues, according to a presentation from the Illinois Department of Revenue last month.
Rep. Tom Demmer, (R-Dixon), who is running for state treasurer, said pandemic-related windfall revenue has allowed Democrats to increase funding faster than year-to-date revenue in year.
“And when that one-time income dries up, the only thing you know how to do is go back and raise taxes again,” he said.
Bob Skolnik contributed to this report.