Any Illinois Capitol-watcher who is pragmatic could say a vote on revenue must be bipartisan; otherwise, it could have and would have been done by now.
The fiscal year began July 1, and spending – at a rate roughly similar to that of last year, when taxes were higher – continues for most state expenses and programs via court order, federal requirement, or consent decree.
After Jan. 1, votes on issues taking effect immediately need only a simple majority, not a supermajority, though it's unlikely the Democrats who lead both chambers would allow a vote without a commitment for a certain number of Republican votes.
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“There has to be a balanced approach to our priorities when it comes to the state budget,” says State Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill). “We can't be gutting programs, for example, at DCFS, because we'd be in violation of federal law.”
Manar and a couple of other Springfield-area lawmakers were at an event a few days after House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) attracted attention with public remarks that the five percent income tax rate, in effect for four years starting in 2011, would be a good starting point for negotiations.
“I can't speak for the speaker on that, because he has not told me personally about that,” says State Rep. Sue Scherer (D-Decatur). “I know, my own self, I've said all along that I won't support raising taxes on the middle and working class. My position isn't changing on that.” She said there's enough waste in Illinois that there is no need for a tax increase.
“We're probably going to end up spending $38-39 billion. That's $3-4 billion more than the speaker wanted to spend, (and it's) $3-4 billion more than the governor wanted to spend,” said State Sen. Sam McCann (R-Plainview). “It's more money than we're going to take in.”
McCann did not vote the governor's way on a labor issue, and, word has it, is not a favorite in the Senate Republican caucus. So how does he get along with his fellow Republicans – Gov. Bruce Rauner and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont)?
“I get along famously with both of them. Now, I guess you could ask them how they get along with me,” said McCann.