The tax hike budget narrowly passed the House, with most of the individual bills receiving the minimum 60 votes needed to win approval. The bills spend nearly $3.5 billion more than the bipartisan House revenue estimate for Fiscal Year 2015.
The House Speaker advanced this budget with the intention that lawmakers who supported the appropriation bills must vote for an income tax increase to fund them. Republican lawmakers also linked the votes to a tax hike, arguing that a vote to spend the money was identical to voting for the taxes.
Republican opponents in the House and Senate also said approval of the budget was irresponsible and likely unconstitutional—because the Illinois Constitution requires that “appropriations for a fiscal year shall not exceed funds estimated by the General Assembly to be available during that year.”
Not only does the recommended FY15 budget violate this constitutional requirement, but it also increases general funds spending by nearly $2.5 billion over the enacted FY14 spending plan.
At the time the tax hike was approved, proponents pledged that the tax hike would be temporary; that the money would be used to pay down the state’s bill backlog; that it would boost the state economy; and it would improve the state’s credit rating.
None of those promises have been kept.
Despite receiving $26 billion in new revenue, there is still nearly $6.9 billion in unpaid bills.
Illinois has the worst credit rating in the nation and has been downgraded five times since the tax increase. Gov. Pat Quinn now owns more credit downgrades than all other Illinois governors combined.
The state’s unemployment rate is higher than any other Midwestern state, far above the national average and the third highest in the nation.