House Sets Vote To Override Budget Veto; Rauner Calls Tax Hike “Two-By-Four Across The Foreheads”

CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has scheduled a Thursday vote to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of a budget package passed this week, but the governor urged lawmakers to let his veto stand, calling the accompanying tax hike a “two-by-four across the foreheads” of taxpayers.

The $36 billion spending plan, which would be the state’s first budget in more than two years, would rely on raising the state’s personal income tax rate from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent, and the corporate income tax from 5.25 percent to 7 percent.

The House approved the budget package with the help of 15 Republican votes over the weekend. The Senate approved the budget plan on Tuesday. Rauner promptly vetoed the entire budget plan, and the Senate just as swiftly overrode his veto, setting up a final showdown in the House.

Madigan’s office has said the House override vote will happen Thursday, when the chamber reconvenes at 1:30 p.m.

Speaking alongside a group of small business owners in the Hegewisch neighborhood, Rauner urged lawmakers to uphold his veto, calling the tax hike “a disaster.”

“This is not just a slap in the race to Illinois taxpayers, this is a two-by-four smacked across the foreheads of the people of Illinois,” Rauner said. “This tax hike will solve none of our problems; and, in fact, long-run it will just make our problems worse, not better.”

Because the budget plan was approved after the May 31 deadline, it passed with enough votes to override Rauner’s veto, but the governor did not say how he would convince lawmakers to side with him.

“We are doing everything possible to make sure that my veto stands, and that it’s not overridden; everything possible,” he said.

In a statement, Madigan said he expects the House to override Rauner’s veto. The speaker has repeatedly blamed the governor for the budget stalemate that entered its third year in July, in particular for insisting on approval of parts of Rauner’s so-called “Turnaround Agenda” as part of any budget deal.

“The House will hold a vote on Thursday, July 6 to override the governor’s vetoes of the balanced budget sent to him. House Democrats look forward to working with our colleagues on the other side of the aisle to begin healing the wounds of the last several years,” he said.

The governor brushed aside questions about whether sustaining his veto would open the door for bond rating agencies to downgrade the state’s credit rating to junk status.

“Speaker Madigan and his subordinates should not be working for Wall Street credit agencies. They should be working for the people of Illinois,” Rauner said.

The governor also dodged questions about why 15 House Republicans would break ranks with him to approve the budget deal and tax hike.

“What we have is a continuing failure by elected officials in Springfield on both sides of the aisle. It’s been led by Speaker Madigan for 35 years. This is more of the same. Our system is broken,” he said.

James Dombrowski, owner Club 81 Too in Hegewisch, said the tax hike would not help business owners like himself, and noted the property tax bill for his business has more than doubled since last year.

Hegewisch Business Association president Bob Wisz said the Southeast Side and southern suburbs are “getting strangled by Indiana” because of higher income taxes, sales taxes, and property taxes in Illinois.

“One tax after another, it just keeps going on,” he said

Wisz said the last gas station in Hegewisch moved out in 1992 because of lower prices across the state line in Indiana, and he claimed the neighborhood has seen 30 businesses leave in the past 20 years.

He said, if the state’s budget situation is so bad that an income tax hike is necessary, business owners should get relief somewhere else.

“Stop the property taxes. Stop the migration. The entire Southeast Side, south suburbs, it’s going to turn into a ghost town,” he said.

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