State lawmakers are back in session this afternoon following a weekend that saw some progress towards passing a state budget.
Dominating the headlines this morning was news of the Illinois House approving a $5 billion income tax increase, with fifteen Republicans defying Governor Rauner and the GOP to vote “yes” to the tax hike, and take a considerable step towards ending the years-long budget impasse.
Among those fifteen Republicans was local State Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer, who explains the circumstances Illinois is dealing with, and why he voted yes despite being against the idea of a tax increase.
“The state is running on court orders. We’re spending $39 billion, and yesterday we passed a budget that was $36.5 billion. The Speaker of the House wanted it to be closer to $40 billion, the Governor proposed a budget that was a little over $37 billion, so it’s less (both of those). The reality that we’re dealing with is that we need the revenue to cover expenditures and we’re paying for the sins of the past. Unfortunately, I’m there to have to make the tough decision…and it wasn’t easy. The last thing I wanted was a tax increase, but the reality is we have to pay our bills,” says Davidsmeyer.
Davidsmeyer expands on the state’s unpaid bills, and says Republican hands are tied in terms of the cuts that they could make.
“We’ve got $15 billion in unpaid bills now, it’s expected to be $25 billion next year, and we’re about to be downgraded to ‘junk’ status. That means that if we didn’t get a 4.95 percent income tax now, it will be a 5.55 percent, at least, next year. You’re talking about cutting 25 percent of your budget when one-third of it is K-12 education, one-third of it is Medicaid, which, because of Obamacare and the Democrats expanding Medicaid under Obamacare, our hands are tied. If we change Obamacare, if we change Medicaid, we will lose all federal funding for Medicaid,” Davidsmeyer explains.
He says another crucial factor is exhibiting sustained financial stability.
“The longer we go, the less stability we have. People always talk about taxes when they talk about businesses going to a state, but I have watched businesses go to higher-tax states because of the lack of stability in Illinois. We have to provide an environment that provides those opportunities for businesses to be able to grow jobs and have natural growth and revenue – more people working, more taxpayers, more people contributing,” explains Davidsmeyer.
Davidsmeyer says despite his discontent towards a tax hike, the state can’t afford to remain idle.
“I never thought that I would be as frustrated as I am right now when we’ve actually gotten a lot closer to a real solution. It’s frustrating that I had to vote for a tax increase because people in the past didn’t pay for their promises. But at the same time, we have to do something to stop the bleeding and move forward,” says Davidsmeyer.
The income tax increase passed the House by a vote of 72-45 yesterday, giving it one vote higher than the three-fifths majority needed for the law to take effect immediately.
The governor has promised to veto the tax increase. However, if the bill gets 71 or more votes the second time around, Rauner’s veto would be overridden. State lawmakers went back into session at 10 o’clock this morning.
To hear more from Davidsmeyer, listen to our full interview with him in the “What’s On Your Mind?” tab online at WLDS/WEAI.com.