As the General Assembly begins it’s final week of the spring legislative session, majority Democrats appear to be in disarray and disagreement over the fate of the state’s 2011 “temporary” tax hike, and, as a result, action on passing a state budget for the next fiscal year has stalled.
After the Governor called for a permanent extension of the tax hike in his annual budget address and the House Speaker and Senate President immediately endorsed the extension, most observers assumed that the permanent extension would be a foregone conclusion in the Democrat-controlled legislature.
The administration and majority Democrats also orchestrated a series of budget hearings to portray doomsday scenarios that would occur if they kept their promise to allow a major portion of the tax hike to expire.
A series of budget bills that endorse and spend the revenues from the tax hike cleared the House, but were put on hold by the Speaker. The House Speaker has said he does not have enough votes to pass the tax hike extension, even though a majority of House Democrats voted to spend the money from the tax hike.
Republicans, who unanimously opposed the 67% tax hike and its extension, remained skeptical that majority Democrats would leave Springfield without the tax increase.
Throughout the spring legislative session, Republican lawmakers have argued that the drastic cuts laid out by the Governor and his allies exaggerate the impact of allowing the tax hike to expire. They point to new and expanded spending that the Governor inserted in his budget, and say that with state revenues coming in higher than originally projected a budget could be crafted that allows the tax hike roll back in January.