Illinois House Republicans are on board with plans to collect more than $2.6 billion from taxpayers from measures proposed by Democrats, but used a news conference Thursday to reiterate opposition to a graduated income tax.
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, told the House on Thursday that thanks to April’s surprise $1.5 billion extra captured from taxpayers, there’s more money coming in to Illinois now than ever in history and it is the first time in years the state has had a balanced budget, and then some.
Beyond that windfall, which Durkin said should be used to make required pension payments and help reduce the state’s $6.5 billion bill backlog, Republicans laid out a list of revenue-generating proposal they will support, including an estimated $212 million from sports wagering, more than $1 billion from an insurance tax, $175 million from capturing delinquent taxes, revised revenue projections of around $845 million for the coming year, and $375 million from the refund fund. The revenue proposals Republicans said they’ll support would bring in more than $2.6 billion.
The GOP’s plan proposes allocating the $2.6 billion in various ways. For K-12 their plan would increase funding by nearly $1.2 billion, higher education by $251 million, human services by $784 million, general services by $161 million, and public safety by $267 million.
Durkin said the GOP budget plan shows there’s no need to change the Illinois constitution’s flat income tax to a progressive structure with higher rates for higher earners.
“Because we have the money to work out the things we need to do with the budget and to fulfill our obligations to Illinois citizens,” Durkin said.
Durkin also said there’s no need to eliminate a private school scholarship tax credit program Gov. J.B. Pritzker has proposed to phase out.
House Majority Leader Greg Harris, D-Chicago, thanked the Republicans willing to vote in favor of the insurance tax, sports wagering and other ideas, but said that’s not enough.
“I think it’s going to take us more to get to where we need to be, ladies and gentlemen,” he said.
State Rep. Blaine Wilhour, R-Beecher City, said there’s a way to get more revenue without tax increases. He said the national economic expansion is the reason for last month’s windfall and Illinois should follow suit by lowering taxes and regulations.
Lawmakers have a May 31 deadline to pass a balanced budget with simple majorities. Harris said Democrats will engage with Republicans in continued budget discussions. Republicans have urged the four legislative leaders to meet with the governor, something they say has only happened twice so far this year with the last meeting being April 11.
Illinois Democrats have veto-proof majorities in both legislative chambers and hold the governor’s mansion.