SPRINGFIELD — Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law Wednesday a $40 billion budget package, representing an increase in state spending of $1 billion from the current fiscal year that ends June 30.
In recent years — back when Springfield was split between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrat-controlled state House and Senate — the idea of lawmakers passing a state budget plan was not a foregone conclusion. In fact, when the Illinois General Assembly approved the state budget last year, it was the first time in Rauner's four-year tenure that a state spending plan was in place when the new financial year kicked in on July 1.
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"We achieved something that has eluded state government for decades. We passed a real balanced budget," Pritzker, a Democrat, said at a Wednesday news conference. "Just a few years ago simply passing a budget was considered nearly impossible, and for years before that the budget included gimmicks and tricks and was balanced in name only. Those days are over."
Here's a closer look at the state budget:
What is the state budget?
The state budget is the spending plan for how Illinois' tax dollars -- money paid by taxpayers -- is spent for the fiscal year that runs from July 1 to June 30 each year. The governor and the legislature negotiate and decide the financial priorities for state government and its agencies. Democratic leaders introduced the 1,500-page budget and accompanying legislation just hours before it was voted on last week.
What's in this year's spending plan?
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How's it paid for?
State government is funded through the various taxes and fees that people pay in Illinois.
To cover the increases in state spending, Pritzker signed separate legislation that includes a provision to collect sales taxes from more online sellers, a new tax on insurance companies to help pay for the state's Medicaid managed care program and a measure decoupling the state income tax from a federal tax break for companies that return foreign profits to the U.S. The budget does not take into account any potential revenue from legalized recreational marijuana.
There also will be a "tax amnesty" program that will allow delinquent filers to pay their overdue taxes from June 30, 2011, through July 1, 2018, without penalty.
What about the money from casinos and sports betting?
Money from new casinos in Chicago, Waukegan and the south suburbs, and legalized sports betting will be funneled into a separate plan to pay for road, bridge and building projects through the $45 billion public works construction program. So will higher taxes on cigarettes and gasoline and other sources.
What about the leftover money?
Pritzker's office anticipates a $150 million surplus, which would be devoted to paying down some of the state's $6 billion backlog of unpaid bills.
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