State taxes went down, but will they go back up?
Four months after your state taxes went down, one of the key questions in the debate over the next Illinois budget is whether they'll go back up.
This week, Illinois House Democrats staged a public rejection of Gov. Bruce Rauner's cuts to human services programs. One way to avoid a broad budget ax is to raise tax revenue, whether it comes from income taxes, sales taxes or fees of some kind.
Of course, the campaign for governor was fought in part over taxes, and the candidate who wanted to keep income taxes from dropping lost. Most suburban lawmakers of both parties opposed the tax ideas former Gov. Pat Quinn proposed.
Still, big proposed cuts have pointed again to the idea that the state might need more money to get by. The past months have seen a parade of mayors, caretakers for the disabled and others pleading with lawmakers to keep their programs whole.
"If they want these services to continue, there's going to have to be additional revenue," state Rep. Sam Yingling, a Round Lake Beach Democrat, said.
Or, he said, if people prefer the lower taxes, services will have to be cut. Yingling said he prefers not raising taxes and would like to see suburban homeowners get property tax relief, arguing some of Rauner's ideas should be discussed.
No specific tax increase proposals are brewing, but with a budget deadline at the end of the month, they could pop up without much notice.
During the campaign, Rauner expressed support for extending the state's sales tax to some services, and his proposals have made reference to "restructuring" the state's gas tax.
Rauner has said before he'd get involved in any tax talks, he wants to see lawmakers address his so-called turnaround agenda, which includes changes to help businesses and make things tougher on unions.
"The Democrats have categorically denied talking about any of this," said state Rep. Ed Sullivan, a Mundelein Republican. "So we're at an impasse, there's no doubt about it. The potential is, of course, a potential government shutdown July 15."
Illinois' new budget year starts July 1, but things get dicey around the middle of the month, when the first payroll comes due.
So will all the bipartisan singing of Kumbaya from earlier in the year be abandoned after Democrats' budget move this week?
"Today, I think, sabotaged some of those discussions," Sullivan said after Wednesday's House vote against human service cuts. "And, remember, the Democrats have supermajorities in both chambers. They can do anything they want."
How do you really feel?
"Today's session was a sham and those who supported this circumvention of the legislative process should be embarrassed and ashamed."
That's state Rep. Ron Sandack, a Downers Grove Republican, in a statement about this week's budget votes in the Illinois House.
State Rep. Fred Crespo is back in Springfield after having a tumor removed from his neck last month.
The Hoffman Estates Democrat said he noticed a small lump on his neck during the 2014 campaign and ended up having surgery in April to remove it after it grew quickly.
It was benign, Crespo said, but still a scary moment. He's sporting a beard and not wearing a tie while he heals up.
"Enjoying every day, man," he said.
On a lighter note ...
Daily Herald reporter Erin Hegarty watched the House and Senate play softball Wednesday night a few hours after the budget debate, and she filed this important dispatch.
The Illinois House prevailed 16-10 over the Senate in the annual House vs. Senate softball game Wednesday night, and some suburban lawmakers played crucial roles.
While state Sens. Dan Kotowski, a Park Ridge Democrat, and Michael Connelly, a Lisle Republican, both had a strong offensive showing at the plate and on the base path, their efforts were not enough to overtake the House.
Rep. Marty Moylan, a Des Plaines Democrat, played tough defense with a diving infield catch as the stands and his team cheered him on. State Reps. Elaine Nekritz, a Northbrook Democrat, and Anna Moeller, an Elgin Democrat, helped cheer on their team as part of the Illinois House's cheer squad.