| SPRINGFIELD, Ill.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. May 30 The Illinois Senate
gave final approval to the state's $35.7 billion fiscal 2015
budget on Friday, sending the governor a spending plan that
plugs a big tax revenue hole with one-time measures.
Temporary income-tax rate hikes, passed in 2011 in the midst
of one of the state's budget pinches, are set to partially
expire on Jan. 1, causing an estimated $2 billion revenue
decline in the fiscal year that begins on July 1. Yet the budget
bills, which were passed by the Democratic-controlled House on
Tuesday, keep most spending flat despite the projected revenue
Democratic Governor Pat Quinn had proposed making the
temporary tax rates permanent, but House Democrats could not
muster enough votes to pass the extension, which Republicans in
both chambers opposed. The House also refused to enact spending
cuts to account for the revenue loss.
"This is a budget that reflects the fact that there is not a
revenue solution before us to fix our long-term problems, to
help people who can't help themselves, and to provide the
world-class education for our children. It is a budget that
lives within the means already provided by our taxpayers," said
Democratic Senator Dan Kotowski.
The revenue decline will occur in the second half of fiscal
2015 as the personal income tax rate falls to 3.75 percent from
5 percent and the corporate rate drops to 5.25 percent from 7
Lawmakers said the budget is expected to add $2 billion to
Illinois' big backlog of unpaid bills, while it would allow the
governor to borrow up to $650 million from a variety of
dedicated state funds to boost general fund cash flow. These
kinds of one-time revenue measures have contributed to past
downgrades of Illinois' bond ratings, which are at the lowest
level among states.
The state has been shrinking its bill pile, which stood at
$5.3 billion in April 2013, down to $4.17 billion as of last
month, according to the governor's budget office.
Ahead of the budget vote in the Democratic-controlled
Senate, Republican senators held a news conference to push a
resolution to prevent a post-November general election vote on
making the income tax rates permanent.
"Lame-duck action is not something that needs to be
occurring on very controversial and important issues," said
Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno. "Those should be
reserved for the regular session of the general assembly."
(Additional reporting by Karen Pierog in Chicago; editing by