SPRINGFIELD – The speaker of the Illinois House on Saturday scheduled a key vote on a multibillion-dollar revenue package that would finance an end to the longest state budget crisis since at least the Great Depression, ending a day that turned acrimonious at times.
Democratic Speaker Michael Madigan of Chicago issued a statement saying a headcount would occur Sunday afternoon on a financial measure "modeled on the bill supported by" Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. It reversed his pronouncement earlier in the day that there would be no budget votes before Monday, a statement which prompted a momentary shouting match in the chamber between the GOP and Democrats.
There was no word on what specific legislation would be called, but the reference to "support" by Rauner and legislative Republicans indicated it would include a 32 percent increase in the personal income tax rate to raise about $5 billion, a provision the GOP has in the past indicated it would accept if it gets the "structural" business and political changes Rauner demands.
State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, said Madigan will call a vote on a tax increase at 2 p.m. Sunday. McSweeney said his primary mission is leading the fight against tax increases for McHenry County residents.
"We need to concentrate on cutting spending and reforming pensions and Medicaid," McSweeney said. "I'm leading the fight against these tax increases. ... We need to cut spending, not raise taxes."
"It's the first day of July, it's a holiday weekend, and it's frustrating and I'm just flabbergasted that the Speaker of the House would bring us out and we’d have no substantial votes," State Rep. Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee, said.
Other local lawmakers gave their responses to negotiations once again being stalled on Saturday.
"I think it's catastrophic and shameful," said State Rep. Barbara Wheeler, R-Crystal Lake. "It's a national disgrace. And we're going to keep fighting the good fight for reforms and structural changes to the way we spend money in the state of Illinois."
State Rep. Steve Reick, R-Woodstock, said he's extremely frustrated.
"Well, obviously I'm disappointed that we didn't get this done sooner," Reick said. "I think we could have, had there been some sense of urgency. I don't know what it is that makes people think we have to wait until the last moment to pass the budget."
Saturday marked the third consecutive fiscal year Illinois has begun without an annual budget in place, and the state has already accumulated a $6.2 billion deficit and $14.7 billion in past-due bills. Without a budget soon, the state comptroller will be unable to cover basic services ordered by courts and road construction shuts down. Powerball and Mega Millions ticket sales have halted, and Illinois' credit rating could be downgraded to "junk."
Madigan's decision came after the Senate, which came in Saturday to await House budget action, adjourned until Monday.
It capped a perplexing day that started with great promise.
Lawmakers arrived at the Capitol energized by Friday, when the House overwhelmingly approved a $36.5 billion spending plan on a preliminary vote. Some House leaders expected after meetings Friday night and Saturday morning that the chamber would proceed with a final vote and a revenue roll call. Republicans reacted angrily to the unexpected development.
"Our side of the aisle is very concerned about what the nation and what will people be thinking about this state," House Minority Leader Jim Durkin said. "We had great momentum yesterday in this chamber. ... I still contend that these matters could be resolved very quickly. I want this done today."
His caucus stood with cheers and jeers, chanting support for continued work as Madigan left the floor to one GOP member's rebuke of the nation's longest-serving House leader as "Speaker Junk!" The floor exploded, with one Democrat shouting down the Republican and the GOP floor leader, Rep. Steven Andersson of Geneva, intervening, "Knock it off. Both of you, knock it off!"
Madigan sent messages Friday to the major credit agencies, which promised a downgrade of Illinois' creditworthiness if the state didn't have a deal by the new fiscal year. Credit agencies typically don't publish analyses on weekends or during holiday periods, so the timing might be in Illinois' favor.
The bills are SB6 and SB9.
• Northwest Herald reporter Nate Linhart contributed to this story.