Illinois lawmakers override governor to enact first spending plan in two years

Illinois lawmakers override governor to enact first spending plan in two years
© Getty Images

Illinois Republicans joined a Democratic majority Thursday to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's (R) veto of a $36 billion budget deal, ending a two-year standoff that has left the state reeling from funding shortages.

Ten Republicans defected in a vote that was delayed for two days by insufficient lawmakers present for quorum calls, according to the Illinois State Journal-Register. On Thursday, the vote was further delayed by two hours after a security incident shut down the building, according to Politico.

Rauner and Illinois' Republican Party slammed the vote in a series of statements Thursday afternoon shortly after the news broke.

“Today was another step in Illinois’ never-ending tragic trail of tax hikes. Speaker [Mikel] Madigan’s 32 percent permanent income tax increase will force another tax hike in the near future," Rauner said in a statement.

"His tax-and-spend plan is not balanced, does not cut enough spending or pay down enough debt, and does not help grow jobs or restore confidence in government. It proves how desperately we need real property tax relief and term limits," Rauner added.

"Now more than ever, the people of Illinois must fight for change that will help us create a brighter future.”


Illinois' Republican Party agreed, blasting the ten Republicans who switched sides to end the stalemate.

“I am deeply disappointed in the Illinois General Assembly’s vote to override the Governor’s veto of Speaker Mike Madigan’s permanent 32% tax hike. Passing a 32% tax increase on the hard-working families of Illinois without any semblance of reform is absolute insanity. It hasn’t worked before, and it won’t work now," spokesman Tim Schneider wrote. 

“I am extremely troubled by the decision of 10 Republicans to again stand with Mike Madigan. Republicans in Illinois fought Madigan’s machine in 2014 to elect Gov. Rauner and won. In 2016 we beat Madigan again and made historic gains in the House and the Senate."

Schneider warned that the GOP lawmakers who defected would pay a price for their willingness to compromise with Democrats.

"After all we have accomplished together, it is astonishing that these legislators would now turn their backs on taxpayers across the state. I am confident voters will hold those politicians accountable for choosing Mike Madigan over the people of Illinois.”

At the center of the Democrats' budget plan is a 32 percent income tax hike that Rauner has called a "2-by-4 smacked across the foreheads of the people of Illinois."

“This tax hike will solve none of our problems. In fact, in the long run, it will make our problems worse, not better," he said.

“Do not override my veto; do not vote to override my veto,” Rauner said at a news conference before the vote.

The Associated Press reports that credit agencies have been threatening to downgrade Illinois' credit rating to "junk" over the fiscal standoff, and that the state's treasury reported it would be $185 million short for basic services by August if a budget was not passed.

Illinois has a $6.2 billion annual deficit and $14.7 billion in overdue bills.

Rauner is a first-term Republican governor, and the state hasn't passed a budget since he took office in 2015. That's the longest any state has gone without passing a budget since at least the Great Depression, according to the AP.