Zalewski and Batinick Expect “Maintenance” Budget — The Illinoize

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Some years, passing a state budget is one of the most controversial things in Springfield. 2022 may not be that way, if you believe a top Republican and a top Democrat in the Illinois House.

With a current budget balanced, in part, due to better than expected state revenues and billions in federal bailout money, Democrats have bragged about their efforts to get the state’s finances under control.

With a shorter than usual legislative session expected this spring with the impacts of the ongoing pandemic, Rep. Mike Zalewski (D-Riverside), the chair of the House Revenue and Finance Committee, says he doesn’t expect the legislature to move a budget that includes wild new spending programs.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t have our disagreements with the Senate and it doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t have disagreements with the Governor, and it doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t have disagreement with [Republicans],” Zalewski said. “But I don’t see it being a monumentally difficult budget year.”

Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield), the second ranking Republican in the House, says he thinks if Democrats stick to a budget that doesn’t try too much, it may not be a difficult year.

“I think a maintenance budget this year will be really easy,” Batinick said. “We need to be a little bit more diligent on what we’re doing with [extra revenue].”

Batinick pointed to existing ideas to use revenue to fund the state’s pension deficit as one way to use extra revenue.

Many Republicans criticized Democrats for attempting to pass expensive new programs and pay for them with one-time federal revenue last year. Zalewski says he wants fellow Democrats to slow down on new programs this year.

“My sense is, the temptation to add programming is probably going to be renewed among our caucus,” Zalewski said. “We have a relatively [inexperienced] caucus, and there’s always an incentive for them to want to add programming and do something that would cost the state treasury. The challenge is going to be convincing everyone that, in a year like this, there’s not going to be a lot of new revenues so you’re going to pretty much have to keep a maintenance budget into 2023.”

Both Zalewski and Batinick say lawmakers will need to get creative if they want to use the state’s authority to reduce the property tax burden felt around the state. They also hope the federal government will help fund, or allow previous bailout dollars, to be used to help fund the underwater Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.

One thing both Republicans and Democrats likely agree on in 2022? Income taxes.

Zalewski says an income tax increase is not on the table this year.

Batinick interrupted with a laugh, “going into an election year, there will not be a tax increase..”

“I couldn’t think of a harder year to pass an income tax increase,” Zalewski

via The Illinoize https://ift.tt/36ydzAy

January 4, 2022 at 10:27AM

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