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Illinois legislators file annual spending plan day they scheduled to adjourn

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(The Center Square) – Illinois taxpayers are getting a bit more detail on how state legislators plan to spend their money for the coming fiscal year.

Late Friday, a 3,374 page amendment to Senate Bill 251 was filed in the Senate. Despite the measure coming on the day legislators scheduled for adjournment before the Memorial Day holiday weekend, state Rep. Lindsey LaPointe, D-Chicago, said the process has been transparent.

“I’d say that the budget process has improved a lot in the last few years and every year it gets more transparent,” she said.

LaPointe said she understands it’s a maintenance budget year with less revenue than anticipated, but she’s pushing to get $13 million in the budget for mental health interdiction in higher education.

It’s expected the budget mostly aligns with the $52.7 billion spending plan Gov. J.B. Pritzker proposed in February.

State Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, said one of her priorities is funding education.

“You asked are the taxpayers getting a good deal,” Stuart said. “We’re investing in our students. We invest in our students starting in preschool. We invest in our students all the way through their K-12 and we should continue to invest in them in that higher education space.”

Total spending on K-12 and higher education could take up a quarter of the budget.

It’s also expected the final deal to be approved over the weekend will include many of the governor’s proposed tax increases approaching $1 billion. In addition to the around $200 million from increased taxes on sports betting companies, more than $500 million in revenue from business operating loss deduction changes and $101 million in the retailers discount for collecting sales taxes, there could be an additional $25 million in tax increases on companies that re-rent large blocks of rooms in the state.

After leaving a meeting of the four legislative leaders Friday, Senate Minority Leader John Curran, R-Downers Grove, said there wasn’t much in the budget he liked, including the continued increased spending.

“It is the lack of control on spending so the federal dollars have largely stopped and [the Democratic supermajority] have shown they are unable to adjust to that,” Curran said.

Illinois’ annual budget has increased from $36.4 billion in fiscal year 2019 to more than $52 billion in the proposed fiscal year 2025 budget that begins July 1.

Separately, in the House Executive Committee Friday, state Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, presented some of the capital spending plan, including billions of additional bonding authority for construction projects across the state.

State Rep. Ryan Spain, R-Peoria, said the budget making seems to be backwards.

“Because we’re trying to understand what we’re paying for and have not seen a budget to be able to arrive at that understanding,” Spain said.

Hoffman laid out a slew of capital spending projects in the annual bond authorization bill with amendments to Senate Bill 3422. The bill includes an additional $8 billion in additional debt authority. Among the projects included are $900 million for the Illinois Department of Corrections to tear down and build two new prison facilities and $500 million for Pritzker’s quantum computing initiative.

Legislators are expected to return Saturday. The budget could be finalized in the early morning hours Sunday, but it’s possible they could come back early next week.

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