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Southernmost senators decry budget deal

  • Senate Democrats approved a $5.4 billion tax increase without a single Republican "aye" on Tuesday in Springfield. The measure now moves to the House.

    Senate Democrats approved a $5.4 billion tax increase without a single Republican "aye" on Tuesday in Springfield. The measure now moves to the House.
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updated: 5/26/2017 3:13 PM

SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois state senators from the state's two most southern districts blasted the budget package passed by the Senate Tuesday as politics as usual, with no relief for taxpayers or businesses.

State Sen. Dale Fowler, R-Harrisburg, and state Sen. Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo, said the Senate's budget deal was a Democratic creation that has multiple flaws.

"It was a party-line vote," Schimpf said Tuesday evening. "I voted no on the tax increase because there were no tax reforms and it shortchanges the pension payment system. These are unconstitutional pension reforms."

Fowler said the lack of tax reforms made the bill unattractive to him, too.

"The concerning thing to me ... is there is more than a $5 billion income tax increase. Plus, we haven't had a balanced budget in 15 years, and this could take us into 16 years. There was also nothing discussed about paying our state's backlog of bills."

Another concern to both lawmakers was a lack of business reforms. Fowler has championed measures to reduce workers' compensation insurance rates in Illinois, saying it is needed to help put the state on a level with surrounding states.

He said Illinois has been losing population, which equates to tax dollars, as state lawmakers refuse to address business reform and tax relief.

"No business reforms were presented today," Fowler said. "This is not the direction we need to go if we're going to get Illinois back on track for economic growth."

Schimpf said he doesn't like that the budget package relies on cutting pension payments to retirees -- something the Illinois Supreme Court previously found unconstitutional.

"Any pension reforms that reduce pension payments are unconstitutional," Schimpf said. "And, we've not had a budget period since 2015 and not had a balanced budget since 2001. I will not vote for any type of package that does not balance the budget."

Fowler said he is disappointed that after much talk of compromise, it hasn't happened.

"We would rather work together to pass a balanced budget, but ... this is all about raising taxes, and putting the burden on the backs of the taxpaying citizens of Illinois."

The bill now goes to the Democratic-controlled House. House Speaker Mike Madigan, in a prepared statement, promised the Senate's budget deal will receive careful examination by a House committee.

"The appropriations measures passed by the Senate will be thoughtfully considered by the House Democratic Budget Working Group headed by (state Rep.) Greg Harris," Madigan said in the statement.

"Since the beginning of the session, a working group made up of Representatives Harris, Carol Ammons, Kelly Burke, Kelly Cassidy, Fred Crespo, Will Davis, Robyn Gabel, Will Guzzardi, Lisa Hernandez, Elaine Nekritz, Elgie Sims and Michael Zalewski has worked diligently on state budget issues, including passage of a Lifeline Budget. They will thoroughly review the Senate's proposal and consider it as part of our efforts to pass a full-year balanced budget that will end the budget impasse."

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