(The Center Square) – The plan to spend $50.6 billion of taxpayer funds for the coming fiscal year is now up to the Illinois House after passing the Senate late Thursday evening.
Legislators had an original adjournment date of May 19 to pass the state’s spending plan, but a deal didn’t come together. After continued negotiations, the Senate revealed the largest spending plan in state history Wednesday, but failed to approve the measure with Democratic leaders saying it was a “mechanical impossibility” to approve the budget in the Senate for the House to then take the measure before adjourning Friday.
The House is expected to take up the measure Friday with possible passage early Saturday morning after midnight, to ensure the measures are read on three separate days.
In the Senate Thursday evening, Republicans said they appreciated their caucus being involved in some of the negotiations, but decried the Democrats’ budget priorities. Republicans criticized subsidies for undocumented health care workers and the absence of extending the Invest In Kids school choice scholarship program set to sunset at the end of the year. The program allows a 75% state income tax credit for individuals who donate private funds to a school choice scholarship program.
“Parents this summer are going to have to decide, are they gonna send their kids to a school that maybe they can afford half a year and then get thrown on their ear? Are they going to put their faith in the Illinois General Assembly to finally figure it out in October, November, December, I don’t know, maybe sometime in January at 3 o’clock in the morning after the second semester has already started? That’s why it was so important to do it now.”
State Sen. Jason Plummer, R-Edwardsville, said the Democrats' budget disrespects many in the state.
“We were here, we participated and folks on your side of the aisle know that we were here and we participated in good faith and you still kicked our people in the teeth with this budget,” Plummer said. “How do you expect us to come back to the table in good faith next time?”
Before passing the bill, state Sen. Elgie Sims, D-Chicago, criticized Republicans for not going along with the plan he said moves the state forward.
“You don’t like the budget here. you don’t like the budget there. You don’t like the budget near. You don’t like the budget far. You won’t vote today. You won't’ vote tomorrow,” Sims said. “You’re not going to vote anyway.”
Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, said they’ll continue to work at bridging the divide between majority Democrats and minority Republicans.
“I am disappointed we have not yet reached a bipartisan budget, but I renew my commitment to work with you next year that we will try again,” Harmon said.
The budget includes an increase to legislator pay from $85,000 to $89,675 for the coming fiscal year.
The deadline to pass a budget with simple majorities is May 31. The next fiscal year begins July 1.