June 5, 2019 – The press room in the JR Thompson Center in Chicago isn’t meant to be a meeting hall, but as many as 40 or more crowded the room, as Gov JB Pritzker (D) signed his first budget into law, as well as the Revenue Bill, and the proposed Constitutional Amendment to change the state’s income tax from a flat tax to a graduated tax. That must first be approved by voters on the November 2020 ballot before Illinois Constitution is changed.
But for Democrats, who were four years locked in a political tug-of-war with former Gov Bruce Rauner (R), in which only ONE budget was signed into law by Gov Rauner — this was a sweet day to celebrate a radical change in the political landscape in state government.
Rep Greg Harris (D), now the Majority Leader in the House, was celebrating his birthday today. As he spoke before the bill signing, he said to those gathered, “This is the greatest birthday ever!”
The spring session that just concluded on June 3, was called “Historic” my many — including the governor and House Speaker. The budget passed, will spend $40 Billion, the largest in the state’s history. The legislature also passed the first Capital Bill in 10 years, and the largest in history, coming at least $42 Billion.
The Governor also saw recreational use of marijuana passed, an expansion of casinos, and expansion of abortion that allows for abortions to take place up to the date of delivery. Abortion expansion split the Democrats’ vote in the House, but it still passed, given the large majorities now held by Democrats in the House and Senate.
The signing of those bills has yet to take place, and not all will enjoy the celebratory mood of today’s bill signing ceremony. But after the extreme contentiousness of the Rauner years, when two budgets were never passed — a first in Illinois history — and the third year a budget was passed over the Governor’s veto, this year’s legislative accomplishments produced a general feeling of the state returning to a level of functionality that hadn’t been matched since the early years of Gov George Ryan, when the state was flush with a $1.5 Billion budget surplus, left over from the Edgar Administration.
But the cost cost of passing the largest Capital bill in history, may come at a political cost in 2020. On July 1st, the state’s motor fuel tax doubles from 19 cents a gallon to 38 cents. That’s the sort of tax that voters will feel immediately and every time they fill up their tanks. A banquet of other taxes and fees are also increasing, from a new $1/pack tax on cigarettes, to a 50% increase in the annual auto sticker fee, a higher tax on beer and alcohol, among others. the Governor noted that when you hit potholes and need to fix your steering or replace a tire — that also costs money, and fixing the roads will save consumers those headaches.
The political question is, whether the improvements on roads, bridges and other fixes to the state’s infrastructure, will be enough to offset voters’ angst at the price they’ll now be forced to pay for the $85 Billion in new spending that was signed into law today. Politics, Personalities, Policies and business developments! Stay in touch with one of the most politically active, and important states in the USA! Follow us on Twitter: @IllinoisChannel website: IllinoisChannel.org DONATE to help fund our Independent Coverage: https://illinoischannel.givingfuel.co..