(WCIA) After more than two years without a state budget, the Illinois House voted to override Governor Bruce Rauner’s vetoes of a $36 billion spending plan, and the income tax hike lawmakers narrowly approved to fund it.
Thursday’s debate which began around 3:30 p.m., was delayed for two hours because the Statehouse was locked down after a woman spread a powdery substance in the governor’s office. A woman was seen being led out of the House gallery in handcuffs a short time later, and emergency crews in yellow protective gear were seen searching her belongings and the governor’s office.
Several lawmakers who were not inside the capitol were kept out of the building until the situation was secured. Authorities gave the all-clear and said the powder was not a biological agent.
The House vote came two days after the Illinois Senate quickly overrode Rauner’s veto of the appropriation, revenue, and implementation bills approved by both chambers over the weekend.
Fifteen House Republicans broke ranks with fellow party member Rauner and voted with 57 House Democrats to pass the budget plan. One of those Republicans was out of the country for a previously scheduled trip for the override vote, but there were still enough votes to bypass the governor’s veto.
The governor has called the budget plan “a disaster,” and compared it to a “two-by-four across the foreheads of the people of Illinois,” but Democrats and Republicans who supported the legislation have said higher taxes, and not cuts alone, were necessary to balance the budget and rescue Illinois finances. In this case, the personal income tax would increase to 4.95 percent, and the corporate tax would rise to 7 percent.
The state has piled up $15 billion in unpaid bills, and its credit rating was on the verge of junk status.
However, Moody’s Investors Services has said the state could still face a credit downgrade even after overriding Rauner’s veto and implementing a budget plan.
The bond rating agency has said it will spend the next 30 to 90 days reviewing the budget plan’s effects on the state’s finances, in particular the state’s severely underfunded employee pension funds, and its massive backlog of unpaid bills.
House Democrats have said the budget would provide enough surplus revenue to support $3 billion in borrowing, and generate up to $8 billion in funds to begin paying off the backlog.