Budget relying on 5% tax passes in House; suburban Democrats split
SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois House today approved a spending plan that relies on extending the state income tax hike, with some suburban Democrats who could face some of the tightest re-election battles voting against it.
The budget proposals don't extend the state's 5 percent tax rate into 2015, but the state would need the money from that extension to pay for the spending Democrats approved during more than 11 hours of meeting Thursday.
On scores of votes, state Reps. Sam Yingling of Grayslake, Marty Moylan of Des Plaines, Anna Moeller of Elgin, Stephanie Kifowit of Aurora and Deborah Conroy of Villa Park voted "no." The five could face tough Republican opponents in November.
"It's irresponsible to vote for a budget with a fictional income source," Yingling said in a statement.
And Moylan said he's opposed the tax extension and therefore couldn't vote for a budget that relies on its money.
Other Democrats who have had competitive races in the past -- state Reps. Michelle Mussman of Schaumburg, Fred Crespo of Hoffman Estates, Elaine Nekritz of Northbrook and Kathleen Willis of Addison -- voted "yes" on the budget.
After the proposals were approved, though, House Speaker Michael Madigan used a procedural move to keep them from being sent to the Illinois Senate, leaving the eventual fate of the all-day budget debate in question.
The spending plans largely mirror Gov. Pat Quinn's proposed budget, which spares many major programs from the "savage cuts" he's said would be necessary if the 2011 tax hike isn't extended. Notably, the Illinois Math and Science Academy in Aurora would see a cut of about 10 percent after some Democrats said its student body isn't diverse enough.
A vote to extend the tax increase could come next week, but its success isn't guaranteed despite the budget votes. Mussman said that while she voted for the budgets, she's still undecided about the taxes.
"I do wish that we had organized this entire structure in a different fashion," she said. "But that didn't get to be my choice."
No matter the House's actions, the Illinois Senate will have the opportunity to tinker with the plan next week, and some Democrats there have protested voting for spending before it's clear the state will have the tax money the budget calls for.
Plans can change quickly at the Capitol, so spending plans could look much different by the time lawmakers' May 31 budget deadline comes along.
State Rep. Carol Sente, a Vernon Hills Democrat, has voted for some of the budget proposals and against the others.
Sente said she is voting for specific categories of spending she favors like the education budget but won't be voting for others. She says she won't vote for spending beyond the money the state would have without a tax extension.
Crespo said a revenue discussion is to come.
"Just because we vote for one or the other doesn't mean we're going to vote for an income tax increase," Crespo said.
Republicans unanimously opposed the budget.
"We must stop this reckless pattern of insane spending," House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said.
The effects of lawmakers' actions could be sweeping. Steep cuts could eat into funding available to care for the disabled, monitor offenders on probation, pay for school buses, and support universities and community colleges.
On the other hand, many voters would like to see their income tax rate drop from 5 percent to 3.75 percent Jan. 1 as scheduled, putting more money in their pockets.
The long debate on the House floor sometimes turned into political theatrics, with Republicans displaying signs on their desks that read "Temporary?" to reference the scheduled tax roll back.
Democrats eventually added their own signs, some reading "Got Plan???" to needle the Republicans about not offering a competing budget plan.
The temporary income tax hike Illinois lawmakers are considering extending is costing the typical taxpayer about $1,100 more this year, according to calculations by the Governor's Office of Management and Budget. The number considers an average income of $55,000.
During a Thursday stop at a suburban Chicago business Quinn wouldn't discuss if he agrees with the approach House members are taking or if he would sign a budget without the extension.
• Daily Herald staff writer Marty Hobe and The Associated Press contributed to this story.