Update: Budget, Taxes, Summer Reading for Kids

Democrats pass largest budget in state history; vote for tax hikes, politician pay raises and a billion dollars for non-citizens.  In the early morning hours of Wednesday last week, Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly voted to implement a $53.1 billion spending plan, passing the largest budget in state history, without Republican support. The Fiscal Year 2025 budget is a whopping $2.6 billion more than last year’s enacted budget and includes pay raises for politicians and a staggering $1 billion for non-citizens. Moreover, Democrats voted for $1 billion in tax hikes to pay for their record-breaking spending.

Over the last four years, the Democrat-controlled General Assembly has joined Governor Pritzker in a voracious appetite for increased government spending. Since the Fiscal Year 2020 budget, Democratic lawmakers have voted to grow state expenditures by more than $13 billion, from nearly $40 billion in 2020 to more than $53 billion this year and have forced hard-working Illinoisans to foot the bill. 

“Once again, Illinois Democrats went behind closed doors and crafted the largest partisan budget in state history that raises taxes at a time when families and small businesses are still dealing with crippling inflation,” said Deputy Minority Leader Ryan Spain (R-Peoria). “I am also concerned with the way that the Democrats’ spending plan prioritizes appropriations for non-citizens and their own pet projects over long-standing programs for Illinois’ citizens, including our most vulnerable. While I understand the state of Illinois faces budgetary pressures, I would have preferred a budget that prioritized tax and spending cuts during this incredibly difficult financial time for the people of Illinois.”

Here is what other House Republican lawmakers are saying about the FY 2025 budget:

House Minority Leader Tony McCombie (R-Savanna):
“This budget is a negligent political document that comes at a massive price to Illinois families. The partisan approach by Democratic leaders has pushed the state onto a failed path of taxes and overspending while ignoring necessary structural and ethical reforms.

“Over the past few weeks, the House has passed bills that address vital needs in the state. The Illinois House Republican caucus, representing parts of all 102 counties, is responsible for holding the majority party accountable on spending. This is especially important with the passage of a budget with bloated political projects, taxpayer-funded benefits for noncitizens, and politician pay raises, which come at the expense of the state’s most vulnerable residents.”

Deputy Republican Leader & Chief Budgeteer Norine Hammond (R-Macomb):
“In the early morning hours, Illinois Democrats passed the largest budget in state history. In just six years under Governor Pritzker, State spending has increased by more than $13 billion, a 32 percent increase. Illinois working families and seniors cannot afford to pay for all this massive spending, especially at a time when so many are struggling with high inflation, high interest rates, and persistently high unemployment.

“This budget includes over $1 billion in additional revenue, raising taxes on Illinois families and businesses while providing minimal tax relief. Adding insult to injury, the Democrats are giving tax breaks to Hollywood studios and Green New Deal environmentalists, while raising taxes on small businesses across the state. The Democrats’ spending plan raids the Road Fund to help pay for Chicago’s mass transit mess. It includes $625 million in new pork projects for Democrat legislators. And worst of all, this budget spends $1 billion on taxpayer-funded benefits for migrants and undocumented immigrants.

“This record-high budget does not reflect the shared priorities of Illinois families.”

Assistant Republican Leader & Budgeteer Amy Elik (R-Alton):
“Hard-working Illinoisans are struggling to afford basic needs amidst high inflation and higher cost of living increases. While Democrats prioritized raising taxes, spending on new programs, and subsidizing failed open-border immigration policies, our state’s most vulnerable citizens have been shortchanged. I’m greatly concerned that the excessive spending this year and, in the future, can only be paid for by more and more tax hikes in the future.”

Democrats needed three tries to pass $1.1 billion revenue plan just before 5 a.m.  After a near-derailment and an all-nighter to wrap up the General Assembly’s spring session, supermajority Democrats in the Illinois House gave final legislative approval to the state budget as the sun rose on the morning of May 29. 

Despite holding 78 seats in the chamber, it took Democrats three tries to reach the 60 votes needed to approve more than $1.1 billion in revenue increases, including a tax hike on sportsbooks and businesses, to balance the $53.1 billion spending plan for fiscal year 2025. 

The spending plan passed 65-45, with seven Democrats joining Republicans in opposition.

The revenue plan that capped the voting on the budget-related bills was more of a challenge. House Bill 4951 fell one vote short of passage twice after 4 a.m. due to attendance issues. On the third try – after about an hour of procedural maneuvering by Republicans that left Democrats reeling – the bill passed at 4:43 a.m. with the minimum 60 votes necessary.

“You – you passed these rules,” Rep. Patrick Windhorst, R-Metropolis, scolded Democrats after the majority party voted to suspend the House rules in order to bring the revenue plan up for a vote a third and final time. 

“I think it should be clear to everyone in the state what this supermajority is willing to do to ram a tax increase down the throats of the citizens of Illinois at 4:30 in the morning,” he added.

Illinois legislators call for meaningful property tax relief, not another study.  Gov. J.B. Pritzker could have another chance to create a task force to conduct a study of Illinois’ property tax system after a measure advanced both chambers despite some saying it will be a waste of time. 

State Rep. Mary Beth Canty, D-Arlington Heights, defended Senate Bill 3455 to create a task force including members from the Illinois Department of Revenue and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to conduct a study to evaluate the property tax system in the state.

State Rep. Brad Halbrook, R-Shelbyville, pointed out that a similar study was conducted after being created in 2019. Canty didn’t have the results of that study. 

“People are leaving this state in droves because of high property taxes, high income taxes, and the like … X,Y,Z name your tax. In 2019 the gas tax went up by double. We don’t know the results of what happened with this 2019 task force that has 88 members and yet we are doing another bill,” said Halbrook. “This isn’t rocket science. We’re not trying to put a man on the moon here. You could pull 10 people in and by tomorrow morning, we could have an answer to what needs to be done here to reform this system. We want to do another bill that will do nothing and go nowhere.” 

In 2020, after the Illinois Property Tax Relief Task Force missed its deadline, Illinois Republicans said they wouldn’t sign off on a draft report because it didn’t include substantive changes to the state’s property tax system. 


Halbrook said the facts are Illinois has among the highest property taxes in the nation. 

State Rep. Tom Weber, R-Fox Lake, said he was on the property tax relief task force in 2019 and there were a lot of good initiatives introduced and not one thing came to fruition. 

“Over 70% of our property taxes go to our school districts and they should be involved and we should try to understand where that 70% is going,” Weber said. “We don’t have property taxpayers involved and this is going to be another waste of time.”

Weber said no one has the stomach in the legislative body to pass meaningful property tax relief. 

Metro Illinois jobs report for April 2024.  The report, published by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), contains granular information on Illinois unemployment, broken out by 14 specific geographical areas in which most Illinois residents live. This data enables a closer look at Illinois unemployment than that conveyed by the overall statewide figure, which was 4.4% in April 2024. Over-the-year, the unemployment rate increased in thirteen metropolitan areas, and decreased in one. 

April 2024 unemployment was significantly higher than this statewide figure in certain Illinois metropolitan areas. The unemployment numbers were 5.3% in metro Danville, 5.7% in metro Decatur, 5.7% in metro Kankakee, and 5.9% in metro Rockford. Regions of Illinois with significantly higher unemployment than the statewide average tend to be metro areas with a traditional orientation towards manufacturing and industry, including so-called “heavy industry.”

Unemployment rates are significantly higher in many regions of Illinois than they were twelve months earlier in April 2023. The year-over-year jobless figure in greater Chicago has gone up by 90 basis points, from 3.4% in April 2023 to 4.3% in April 2024. This increase in heavily populated metro Chicago helped drive a parallel increase in Illinois, during the same period, from 3.8% to 4.4%. Illinois, the Chicago area, and many other metro areas within the state continue to suffer from significantly higher unemployment rates than those posted by neighboring states. They are also higher than the jobless figures posted by the U.S. as a whole during the same month.    

Rep. Spain encourages students to join summer reading program.  State Representative Ryan Spain has launched his eighth annual Summer Reading Club Program for grade school students (K-5th grade) who live within the 73rd House District. The program is offered to encourage students to read over the summer and promote the lifelong benefits of literacy. 

“Keeping the mind active through reading over summer break helps ensure students enter the next school year on the front foot,” said Spain. “My Summer Reading Program is a fun way to reward students by simply reading eight books over their summer break and returning a form signed by a parent or guardian. It’s important for all of us in our communities to encourage students to get ahead by becoming better readers.”

Brochures were distributed recently through area schools, but are also available on Rep. Spain’s website (Click Here) or by calling his Peoria District Office at 309-690-7373. Participation in this program can overlap with any other summer reading program offered through area libraries. 

Participating students have until July 31st to read their eight books. Participants will receive special recognition and a prize. Submissions can also be turned in electronically – Click Here.