Possible Budget Framework Relies On Cuts, Tax Hike

May 12, 2016

Credit Amanda Vinicky / WUIS / Illinois Issues

Billions of dollars in cuts are part of a possible budget for next year. So are higher taxes.

Illinois built up a deficit over the years; the current impasse has only exacerbated it. A bipartisan group of legislators chosen to craft a solution has a potential path for fiscal year 2017.

Members are cagey about sharing details. It's politically sensitive; members say they're hesitant to share details out of respect for their private negotiations.

But some confirm: it suggests bringing Illinois' 3.75 percent income tax rate up, to 4.85 percent. And it has Illinois adding a sales tax on some services that aren't taxed now.

The outline also relies on billions of dollars of spending cuts.

Democratic Representative Fred Crespo of Hoffman Estates was clear that it's nowhere near a done deal.

"It was basically an exercise to put together a balanced budget, that's what it was. It was making sure that the pluses and minuses added up," he said. "There's no agreement in the group, we just agreed that we would present this to the leaders and see how they react."

It's an exercise that’s purely based on numbers. But philosophical and political disputes remain.

Senator Heather Steans, a Chicago Democrat, is equally adamant.

"I think it provides a great framework to get to a deal by the leaders though," she said. "I think the framework is there. I think what's not a part of it, was not the charge, was dealing with any of the Turnaround Agenda items."

She says that could be the sticking point.

The governor is dead set against higher taxes absent fundamental, pro-business changes -- changes Democrats have referred to as anti-middle class.

Still, some lawmakers see it as progress, as they say it shows Democrats and Republicans can work together.