Illinois budget would increase spending, how much depends on voters

Gov. Pritzker wants to increase spending -- if -- voters approve a graduated income tax system.

Alex Degman
February 19, 2020 - 8:55 pm

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (KMOX/AP) -- Gov. J.B. Pritzker is proposing a $40.7 billion state budget.

He dressed it up by dangling the prospect of a $1.4 billion revenue boost if voters approve a graduated income tax this fall. 

It's not a new idea, the governor campaigned on a system that would change the state's income tax rate from the current 4.95 percent across the board to 4.95 percent for those earning between $100,000 and $250,000 annually, less for those who earn less than $100,000, and 7.75 percent for those earning more than $250,000 per year.

Small businesses filing as individuals would be subject to the new tax rate at $250,000 annually, married couples filing jointly would need to make at least $350,000 to pay the higher rate.

Pritzker presented a fiscal outline with virtually no spending increase. It purports to boost spending in key areas such as education, but Pritzker is holding $1.4 billion "in reserve," to be used only if a graduated income tax is approved by voters.

Republicans complained Pritzker is holding the tax question over taxpayers' heads to secure the additional spending. 

"This just doesn't make sense that we have to continue to raise taxes," said House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs). "It's merely just a continuation of the campaign and a fulfillment of a tax increase."

Lawmakers typically take the governor's blueprint and use it as a springboard to craft their own budget, they have the final say. They have until May 31 at midnight to pass it -- after that, it takes more votes to pass legislation. It's typically a down-to-the-wire affair in Springfield, but last year was the first year in recent memory lawmakers passed a budget before the deadline.

Learn more about the proposal here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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