A new budget agreement has been crafted by lawmakers and is now pending approval in legislation. According to sources from Chicago Tonight, the new budget framework will include higher taxes, big cuts in spending, and a possible Chicago casino.
The budget agreement would include almost $8 billion in new taxes and spending cuts, with $5.4 billion in new taxes. This will come to fruition by raising the income tax up to 4.85% and broadening the sales tax in order to cover services.
As far as the $2.5 billion in cuts, Chicago Tonight reports that it includes pension reforms, such as shifting higher pension costs away from the state and instead shifting them toward local districts.
Additionally, the lawmakers discussed the addition of five potential casinos — including a casino in Chicago the city’s mayor says could fund police and firefighter pensions.
However, this agreement does not necessarily mean that lawmakers have established a final budget. Rather, the final word will be said when legislative leaders decide what they want to do with it.
Some GOP representatives have hinted that the final agreement will have to have other reform items. Sources report that a separate bipartisan group is working on said reforms, which include changes to workers’ compensation — something that currently costs employers $83.2 billion nationwide. Other issues include local government consolidation as well as reform in the way local governments deal with public employee unions.
Legislators have yet to agree on education funding and similar issues.
In addition to the budget agreement, the General Assembly passed funding for critical social service programs, allocating a little over $700 million for that include everything from mental health and HIV services to youth employment.
“These are incredibly valuable, worthwhile programs that are funded in here that are critical to provide for the neediest folks in the state,” said state Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago).