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State lawmakers face zero hour in budget talks

November 17, 2010

With adjournment scheduled for May 31, the Illinois General Assembly appeared headed to overtime, unable to craft a state budget before the calendar moved to June. This newsletter deadline was 1 p.m. May 31.


Unproductive meetings between Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the Senate president and House speaker—all Democrats—would give voice to state Republicans, whose consent would be needed to pass any measure beginning June 1, when bills cannot proceed without a supermajority of 61 percent of legislators in each chamber. 

Many legislators considered expanded gambling as the best source of new funding, but the influx would prove far less than the governor projected collecting under a gross-receipts tax. House members in early May trounced that idea, which could have shuttered one-quarter of the state’s new-vehicle dealers.


The CATA joined many business groups in a media campaign to derail the GRT, and association members were urged to contact their legislators to oppose it. 

House Democrats on May 30 advanced a limited-growth state budget plan, about one-tenth the size of what Blagojevich proposed in March, to pump new money into education but omit the expansive health-care program that the governor wanted to fund with a GRT.


Senators hashed the plan on May 31 as the midnight hour for adjournment neared, and the Illinois Republican caucus moved closer to relevance. 

The Senate could pass the House plan and then wait for the governor to call a special session regarding his health care initiative, or they could attempt to move their own plan.


The GRT, which was part of the biggest proposed tax hike in state history, drew outrage in Illinois and interest in other states. "This is pretty cool for Indiana," JohnMikesell, professor of public finance at Indiana University, said in April. "A lot of us are rooting for Illinois to pass the thing because there will be so many opportunities to study the adverse impact on the Illinois economy."