(The Center Square) – Illinois state lawmakers handed themselves more than $485,000 in pay raises by approving the largest spending plan in state history, which includes about $1, $8 billion in tax cuts.
It wasn’t until around 6 a.m. Saturday that state lawmakers finalized a House and Senate plan to tax and spend for the coming fiscal year.
The final product, by means of a budget billa tax policy bill and one budget implementation billspends almost all of the estimated $46.5 billion in taxpayer revenue.
State Sen. Elgie Sims, D-Chicago, said the bills are paying more for the state’s retirement debt, and even more than the governor wanted for a rainy day fund.
“This budget includes $1 billion in our rainy day fund,” Sims said.
State Sen. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, said the reality is the Democrats’ plan is spending virtually everything the state brings in and at record highs.
“I understand what you’re saying we’re going to spend,” Bryant said. “I hope everyone understands that we have increased our expenses by 30% in eight years.”
During the debate, Sims noted that there was no language in the budget implementation bill that blocks increases in the cost of living for state lawmakers, which would cost taxpayers $485,400. That would be about $2,742 more for lawmakers, if they were split evenly, though senators receive a higher salary than representatives.
The budget package includes tax policy changes. There is a property tax refund of up to $300 per household, an income tax refund of $100 per individual. Teachers receive double the tax credit, and there is an earned income tax credit. There will also be a sales tax holiday for back-to-school purchases between August 5 and August 14.
The 1% grocery tax will be waived for one year and retailers must note it on receipts “whenever possible”.
The message on grocery store receipts should state “From July 1, 2022 through July 1, 2023, the Illinois State Sales Tax on groceries is 0%. Legislation states that “if If it is not possible for the retailer to include the statement on a cash register tape, receipt, invoice or sales ticket issued to customers, the retailer must display the statement on a sign clearly visible to customers. The panel should be no smaller than 4 inches by 8 inches.
The gasoline tax increase of about 2.2 cents per gallon that has not yet taken effect will not take place for six months. Fuel retailers must put up a sticker stating this or face a $500 daily fine. The sponsor of the measure, State Representative Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside, could not provide an estimate of the cost of putting such a sticker on every gas pump.
State Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, said the sticker is not only ethically questionable in an election year, it’s like a comedy skit that highlights how Illinois’ gasoline tax is more expensive for neighboring states.
“So will the sticker say ‘hey gas is 50 cents more a gallon here across the border or across the river it would have been 52.2 cents more, but here’s a sticker to say it’s only 50 cents more,” Batinick said.
Governor JB Pritzker and Legislative Democrats doubled the state’s gasoline tax in 2019 from 19 cents per gallon to 38 cents, and added an annual increase linked to inflation. It is this annual increase that has been suspended for six months. Illinois is also one of the few states to assess its sales tax in addition to gasoline tax, so motorists in Chicago and elsewhere pay about 50 cents per gallon in state taxes alone. .
Minority Republicans have called for permanent tax relief totaling $2.2 billion. The plan approved by the Democratic majority provides about $1.8 billion in tax relief.
The package is now about to be sent to the governor. The next fiscal year begins on July 1.