Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law a $38.5 billion bipartisan compromise budget that holds the line on taxes, increases funding for education, curbs spending and creates a new adoption tax credit that will make it less costly for Illinois parents to adopt children.
"For the first time in years, we have an opportunity to manage our way into balance, and we don't have to dip into the pockets of overtaxed Illinoisans to do it," Rauner said. "Balance is in reach because we were able to accomplish $445 million of pension reform and the economy is stronger thanks to federal tax reform, and we are benefiting from an unexpected boost in tax receipts."
"I'm signing this legislation because it is a step in the right direction, but it is not perfect," he said. "We have a lot of work to do before we fully restore the state's fiscal integrity. We still need to enact reforms that bring down the cost of government, make the state friendlier to job creators, and ignite our state economy so it grows faster than government spending."
The bulk of the FY19 plan was laid out months ago when the Governor gave his budget address to the General Assembly on Valentine's Day. It was there that he framed his chief goals for the upcoming fiscal year: spending within our means, and no new taxes.
Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) said, "Today is a good day for Illinois. This budget is a true, bipartisan effort that respects taxpayer dollars and sets Illinois on a better fiscal path. Illinois still must address the need to pass pro-growth, pro-jobs reforms that can fundamentally change Illinois' fiscal and economic future for the better."
"I commend Gov. Rauner for his leadership in helping get us a budget we can balance," said Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady.
"This balanced budget was a bipartisan compromise that contains no new taxes and includes full year funding with appropriations for those who rely upon us - schools, universities, corrections, seniors, families, children and the underprivileged," House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said. "I have always said we can achieve great things when we respect the priorities and principles of our counterparts and with this new framework I look forward to accomplishing more reforms for the state of Illinois."
The General Assembly adopted many of the governor's key agenda items. He listed some of them during a press conference attended by legislative leaders, sponsors and budget negotiators.
Rauner and the Republican leaders staved off $1 billion in spending increases by aggressively managing agency budgets and tabling $500 million in spending increase proposals. That's a billion and a half dollars in much-needed spending restraint, officials said
The budget fully funds the new evidence-based formula the administration introduced in 2015 and signed into law last summer. There's $350 million in new K-12 dollars, which is up $1.4 billion since 2015, and $50 million for Early Childhood Education, which is up $200 million since 2015. AIM HIGH scholarships get $50 million to encourage Illinois high grads to attend Illinois universities. The MAP grant program is funded for four years. Colleges get $25 million of new money and the tuition tax credit program stays intact.
The legislature addressed pension costs by making some modest reforms that will reduce long-term liabilities and save $445 million this year.
Rauner said he was "particularly proud" of the work on his measure to create tax credits to encourage more adoptions by Illinois parents. Parents who can provide stable, loving homes for needy children can qualify for tax credits up to $5,000 per child.
"This budget cuts more than a billion dollars in spending while investing in critical components of Illinois future, like: K-12 and higher education," said Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet). "While more work remains to put Illinois on a path to true fiscal health, a balanced budget with no more tax hikes is a good start."