Breaking News

Illinois lawmakers override vetoes to enact first budget in two years

EconomyJul 06, 2017 08:34PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
© Reuters. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn delivers his State of the State address in Springfield

By Karen Pierog and Dave McKinney

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Illinois ended its historic budget drought on Thursday after the House of Representatives enacted the state's first complete spending plan since 2015 by overriding the governor's vetoes.

But the $36 billion fiscal 2018 budget and $5 billion tax hike may not save Illinois from becoming the first-ever U.S. state with a junk credit rating.

The Democratic-controlled House mustered some Republican votes to enact a trio of budget and revenue bills into law over Republican Governor Bruce Rauner's objection. The House's action, which was delayed by a nearly two-hour lockdown of the state Capitol in Springfield after a woman threw a white powder into the governor's office, followed successful Senate veto override votes on Tuesday.

The spending plan for the fiscal year that began on July 1 ends an unprecedented two-year budget impasse between Rauner and Democrats who control the legislature.

Rauner pointed to House Speaker Michael Madigan as the architect of the 32 percent permanent increase in the state's personal income tax rate, which will rise to 4.95 percent from 3.75 percent.

"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," Rauner said in a statement, adding that Illinois "desperately" needs local property tax relief and term limits for elected officials.

Madigan, who next month will becomes the longest-serving House speaker in U.S. history, said he acted in the state's interest.

“The people in this chamber did not do what was easy today, but we did what was right for the future of our state,” Madigan said after the House completed veto overrides of the budget and tax package, which ranks as one of the brightest legislative victories of his three decades as speaker.


After the security scare, when a woman threw a white powder which was later determined to be harmless into the offices of the governor and lieutenant governor and the House gallery, the bipartisan turning back of Rauner's budgetary vetoes came swiftly. For Rauner it was the most significant and humiliating political blow of his 30 months in office.

Representative David Harris, who was among the 10 Republicans who voted to overturn the tax hike veto, rhetorically asked Rauner from the House floor how he willingly could take the state into the “financial abyss” considering the governor’s long-established business acumen as a former private equity investor.

“You are an astute, capable businessman. You understand what the numbers are here," Harris said. "You understand the implications of junk-bond status. Is that what we want for the fifth-largest state in the union?”

Rauner’s allies made an effort to defend the governor’s position to hold out for non-budgetary priorities like a property-tax freeze and changes in how injured workers are compensated by employers, but it was a lost cause.

“I hope that everybody back home and everybody across this state will rise up, let everyone in this chamber know exactly how they feel after this vote is taken,” said Representative John Cabello, a Republican "no" vote.

Illinois has been operating for two fiscal years on stop-gap budgets and spending ordered by courts and mandated by Illinois law. Its unpaid bill backlog has ballooned to $15 billion, leaving state universities, social service and health care providers and scores of vendors starving for cash.

Moody's Investors Service, which rates Illinois one notch above junk, placed the state under review on Wednesday for a potential downgrade, saying the budget plan may fall short in addressing the state's huge unfunded pension liability and the bill backlog.

The new budget aims to initially reduce the bill pile by only about a third, while banking on a projected $1.5 billion in savings from creating a hybrid retirement plan for new hires and other pension measures.

Praise for Thursday’s House action flooded in from cash-deprived social-service groups, including the Chicago-based Ounce of Prevention Fund, a group dedicated to fighting childhood poverty whose president is Diana Rauner, the governor’s wife.

“We applaud the members of the General Assembly in both parties who took the tough vote to try to end this impasse,” the group said in a statement.

With a new budget in hand, the Illinois Lottery will immediately seek leave to resume sales of Mega Millions and Powerball tickets after they were suspended in late June, and a shutdown of billions of dollars in state road projects will end, according to state spokespeople.

Illinois lawmakers override vetoes to enact first budget in two years

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind: 

  • Enrich the conversation
  • Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed.
  • Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically.
  •  Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and links within a comment will be removed
  • Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user.
  • Don’t Monopolize the Conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also believe strongly in giving everyone a chance to air their thoughts. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Post also to:
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email