By Fiona Simmons
Illinois lawmakers have passed an emergency budget, taking into account the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on the state’s economy.
Lawmakers Pass a $40 Billion State Budget
Following a late Saturday night – early Sunday morning vote, lawmakers in Illinois passed a $40 billion state budget. Keeping in mind the budget gap that was created by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the state combined with the stay-at-home order by Governor J.B. Pritzker, the Prairie State was left with a budget just under $37 billion. This forced the state’s lawmakers to look for aid from Washington in order to ease the restart of the economy following the end of the pandemic.
Concentrated around party lines, the House vote was 68-44. Republicans from the Senate voted against the budget given the unpredictable times around the recent outbreak. However, the Senate vote ended 37-19. The newly voted budget involves loans from the Federal Reserve rescue program, which aims to aid states impacted by the pandemic. The loans would be up to $5 billion. The additional funds of some $350 million, vowed in 2018 for the school districts and universities, are not a part of the revised budget. Instead, those institutions will keep the same funding as before. Some $20 million are allocated to aid the public sector such as hospitals and other institutions which suffered due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Commenting on the subject, Gov. J.B. Pritzker noted: “This isn’t something special for Illinois, it really is a problem that every state is experiencing.” He continued by expressing hope that the Republicans will step up and aid the change, which aims to receive the needed funds from the federal government.
Tax Structure Changes for The Chicago Casino
Lawmakers also approved changes in the casino tax structures for The Chicago casino. Supporting the change, Senator Bill Cunningham noted that some $45 million of licensing fees are expected to be received even before the casino is opened. To top this off, some $700 million reconciliation fees are expected to be received by the state. Cunningham commented on the subject by saying: “It’s fair to say that over the next handful of years, the Chicago casino is going to provide hundreds of millions of dollars, indeed well over a billion dollars to our capital program.”
During the legislation, the House had to be moved from the Capitol chamber to a business center. Keeping in mind the country’s state of emergency due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) spread, the session was conducted under extreme safety measures. Social distancing was applied so that the there is enough physical space between the lawmakers. The Prairie State’s lawmakers also had to wear masks and had their temperature checked.