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House Approves $53.1 Billion Plan, Sends It to Governor – NBC Chicago

The Illinois House passed a $53.1 billion state budget early Wednesday morning, approving a plan that is $400 million more than Gov. J.B. Pritzker proposed in February and raising taxes and making other changes to the tax code at 1, generate $2 billion to finance it.

Just after 2 a.m. Wednesday, as discussions stretched into the night, lawmakers voted 65-45 to approve the budget.

The budget, which passed the Senate over the Memorial Day long holiday weekend, now heads to Pritzker’s desk where it awaits his signature.

“This budget is balanced, responsible and fair,” House Speaker Pro Tempore Jehan Gordon-Booth, a Peoria Democrat, told the Executive Committee. “It invests in children, it invests in infrastructure, it also invests in our most vulnerable.”

Republicans complained that Democrats, who control the Legislature, are spending beyond their means and not preparing for what many say will be the lean years. Deputy Republican Leader Norine Hammond of Macomb said she has found at least $1 billion in spending that would be deferred into the next fiscal year.

“I fear there are gimmicks in this budget that are putting us on a path to a massive collision in the future,” said Rep. CD Davidsmeyer, a Republican from Jacksonville, against Gordon-Booth. “I hope I don’t have to do that. say, ‘I told you so’ when it happens.”

What will it mean for the residents?

Here are some things you need to know:

Grocery tax

One thing on many Illinois residents’ minds is the state tax on groceries.

The approved plan removes the tax from Illinois.

But because the tax directly benefits local communities, the budget plan would allow each municipality to set its own grocery tax of up to 1% without state oversight. And those with home rule – generally speaking, any city or county with a population over $25,000 would be authorized to impose a sales tax of up to 1% without putting the question to voters for approval.

Pritzker called for the tax to be eliminated during his budget speech in Springfield earlier this year, with the governor saying the proposed elimination would provide a boost to families still hit hard by rising prices. Pritzker characterized the 1% tax as a “regressive tax” that the state does not need.

“If it reduces inflation for families from 4% to 3%, even if it only puts a few hundred dollars in families’ pockets, then that’s the right thing to do,” he said.

More than a dozen states currently tax groceries, and while Pritzker’s desire to rid Illinois of the tax has plenty of consumer approval, the state’s current tax generates significant revenue for local municipalities.

However, lawmakers in the Senate praised the repeal of the tax over the Memorial Day long weekend.

“This measure provides relief from skyrocketing food prices,” Senator Steve Stadelman said in a statement. “By eliminating the state-imposed sales tax on groceries, we can provide financial relief to families across the state, making essential items more affordable.”

The 1% tax on groceries applies specifically to items that, under state law, are intended to be “consumed outside the place where they are sold.”

The sales tax was suspended as part of Pritzker’s fiscal year 2022 budget, with officials predicting it could save shoppers up to $400 million.

Tax increases

While things like the grocery tax may be eliminated, another provision in the budget could result in a higher tax bill for most state residents.

According to the text of the budget, Pritzker is proposing that the state increase the relief allowance for tax year 2024 to $2,550.

Since that increase is less than what was originally requested due to inflation, the action would result in deposits of an estimated $93 million into the state’s general fund, according to the budget.

The “exemption allowance” is a standard deduction for Illinois taxpayers that is intended to reduce adjusted gross income, state officials said.

According to the state Department of Finance, the deduction for tax year 2023 was $2,425. That number was lower than the $2,625 it was originally supposed to be, with the number determined by fluctuations in the consumer price index, which measures inflation.

State officials had halted that automatic inflation-linked increase but would allow it to resume in 2024, which would have increased the relief to $2,775.

Instead, Pritzker’s plan would mean the exemption would be $225 smaller than originally intended, which could result in a small increase in tax bills for state residents due to increases in their taxable income.

State Republicans have rejected the move, arguing it unfairly targets low- and middle-income residents.

“This will hit low- and middle-income families, and it is a tax increase,” Senate Minority Leader John Curran told WBEZ. “If the Legislature does not agree to this, people will receive greater tax savings under the current existing law than what the governor has proposed.”

Child tax credit and sports betting

Also included in the Senate-approved budget is increased funding for the child tax credit, which will be paid for in part through an increase in taxes on sportsbook gambling.

According to lawmakers, the budget “includes investments of $50 million for a Child Tax Credit for qualifying low-income families with the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), as well as pay increases for Direct Support Professionals (DSP) and Community Care Program (CCP) employees.” ) and more money for safety net hospitals.”

The money for this comes from increased taxes on sports betting and video gambling. Pritzker wanted the tax paid by casino sportsbooks to increase from 15% to 35%, but it was set on a sliding scale from 20% to 40%.

“Millions of working families across the state are struggling to make ends meet and this budget shifts taxpayer dollars to stabilize our economy through better-paying jobs and increasing the child tax credit,” Senator Rachel Ventura said in a statement. “Major investments are being made not only in primary education, but also in higher education. Investing in resources that give everyone the opportunity to receive a quality education, regardless of their zip code, is critical to ensuring our youth are prepared for what comes after school.”

The change would mean Illinois families with children under 12 could receive an average of $300 to $600 in credits.

“With the passage of this budget, thousands of households – parents, caregivers and children in Illinois – will get extra money every year to put food on the table, pay rent, get childcare and other basic needs that no family should have to forgo . our state,” Senator Mike Simmons said in a statement.

Pay increases for lawmakers

According to Politico, the Senate-approved budget also includes “cost-of-living wage increases of approximately 5 percent for state lawmakers.”

Last year, lawmakers gave themselves a nearly 16% raise.

It was the first increase since 2008. Since then, lawmakers have approved automatic cost-of-living adjustments, with increases in 2021 and 2022.

Education

Among the changes in the budget was a funding change that would allow many college and university students who are at or below the median income level to receive tuition and fees covered by MAP and federal Pell Grants.

There is also a $350 million increase for K-12 education, as mandated by a 2017 school funding review, but a reduction from what was requested by the state Board of Education for federally mandated school operations. The budget includes an additional $75 million for early childhood education, which means 5,000 additional seats, Gordon-Booth said.

Medical debt

The Senate-approved budget also includes House Bill 5290, which would create a so-called Medical Debt Relief Program.

The program would eliminate medical debt for an estimated 340,000 Illinois residents.

“When I became governor, I promised to put Springfield back on the side of working families,” the governor said on social media last month. “My budget will repay $1 billion in medical debt for more than 300,000 Illinoisans. It’s the right thing to do.”

Financing of migrants

It proposes to provide $182 million to fund services for tens of thousands of migrants seeking asylum in the U.S., largely by bus from Texas, where they cross the border. And it provides $440 million for health care for noncitizens.

Other notable items

One of the most notable items left out of the budget is money for professional sports stadiums.

Pritzker has made it clear that the state isn’t sold on the idea of ​​public financing for new stadium plans for the Chicago Bears or the Chicago White Sox. His press secretary called the plan a “non-starter for the state.”

Political experts had speculated that lawmakers would likely step on such funding.

According to Senate President Don Harmon, the budget also includes:

  • An increase of $350 million in funding for public schools across the state
  • Continued payments on long-term debt, including the pension systems for state workers, university employees, and public school teachers.
  • $2 million has been spent on providing greater safety in reproductive health clinics.
  • Addition of 280 frontline DCFS workers

“This is a responsible, responsive and balanced budget for the great state of Illinois,” Harmon said in a statement. “It provides meaningful investments in our priorities and shared goals. I want to thank my colleagues in the Senate, House Speaker Welch and Governor Pritzker for all their work in putting this plan together.”

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