FILE - Gov. J.B. Pritzker, June, 5, 2019

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks in downtown Chicago in this Wednesday, June 5, 2019, file photo.

The Democrat-controlled General Assembly voted to override Gov. J.B. Pritzker's veto of a sales tax exemption.

The state Senate took the final vote to enact the bill over the freshman governor’s objection on Wednesday. 

House Bill 3902 reinstates a previous sales tax exemption on materials, parts, equipment, components and furnishings used on planes in 14 facilities in the state. The tax exemption was allowed to sunset along with others during the budget impasse, but state officials were largely unaware, not collecting what industry advocates estimated to be $50 million in taxes. 

Pritzker vetoed the bill. He said the tax break for a luxury industry wasn’t justifiable given the state's finances. 

“Giving private aircraft companies tens of millions of dollars in past-due tax forgiveness is not the right fiscal decision for our state as we face billions in debt associated with unpaid bills, a multi-billion-dollar structural deficit, and critical needs in schools and public safety services,” the governor wrote in his veto message.

To lawmakers, the vote was about jobs in their districts.

“In my district alone, over 500 jobs were created because of this exemption,” said state Sen. Rachelle Crowe, the Alton Democrat who sponsored the bill. “More than 500 families are supported in highly-skilled, well-paying jobs with a median income of over $82,000.”

Crowe said the exemption was an industry norm and doing away with it would not only be a shock to the companies that perform such work, but could also push those customers to other states.

“This isn't about the very privileged people that happen to own private aircraft,” said Sen. Scott Bennett, D-Champaign. “This is about the hard-working men and women who have special skills and have created markets and created new jobs across Illinois.” 

The governor has vetoed eight bills. House Bill 3902 is the only bill lawmakers have voted to override. 

The sales tax exemption will last until Dec. 31, 2024.

Staff Reporter

Cole Lauterbach reports on Illinois government and statewide issues for The Center Square. He has produced radio shows for stations in Bloomington/Normal and Peoria, and created award-winning programs for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.