Soda Tax, Gambling Expansion Are Budget Prospects

May 15, 2016

A tax on sugary drinks could bring Illinois $375 million, but legislators have panned the idea in the past.
Credit flickr/b0r0da

A potential framework for a balanced state budget relies on both cuts, and bringing in more money to state coffers. That does include an income tax hike. But there are other revenue ideas too.

Legislators who've been unable to reach a budget deal since last July have about two weeks left to agree on a new plan, or risk taking the state into a new phase of uncertainty and political gamesmanship.

After May 31, it takes a supermajority rather than a simple majority to pass a budget.

There's a feeling of cautious optimism at the Capitol they may do it.

A bipartisan group of legislators came together, and last week presented the governor and legislative leaders with a menu of options for getting to a balanced budget.

One of them -- Senator Donne Trotter, a Chicago Democrat -- says, as has previously been reported, that it calls for raising the state income tax from 3.75 percent to 4.85 percent, a corporate tax hike, closing corporate loopholes and a expanding the sales tax base.

But it also includes an idea legislators have passed on before.

"We're looking at a beverage tax, which some have called a sugar tax or the pop tax, which would bring in approximately $375 million." Trotter also says the package contemplates gambling expansion.

"Also on the table is that old standby of looking at the possibility of bringing gaming, or to expand gaming here in the state of Illinois," Trotter said Sunday on WGN radio's "Sunday Spin" program.

In recent years, lawmakers slated five news casinos -- including in Chicago, Rockford and Danville -- but were rebuffed by then Gov. Pat Quinn.

Horse race tracks also want in on the gaming action.