Details remain fluid, but the Senate began moving multiple pieces of legislation Monday that include an increase in the income tax to 4.95 percent, up from the current 3.75 percent; a penny-per-ounce tax on soda and other sweetened beverages; new casinos, including one in Chicago; and a hike in the minimum wage from $8.25 an hour to $11 an hour by 2021. The new revenue would in part be used to pay off roughly $7 billion in new borrowing to help pay down the state’s $11 billion backlog of unpaid bills.
Other proposals include an overhaul the state’s public employee pension system, consolidation of local units of government and a change in rules for how schools do contracts with outside vendors. The package would also include funding for universities and social service providers, which dried up Jan. 1. Efforts to overhaul the workers compensation system and freeze property taxes still had not been written into a bill as of early Monday afternoon, but those are key issues Rauner and Republicans have pushed for.
Stopgap budget set to expire, returning Rauner-Madigan standoff to where it was last summer
It’s unclear if the Senate would vote on the ideas later Monday. Democrats and Republicans are huddling separately behind closed doors to go over the proposals, which could easily derail any movement should major opposition arise.
Even if the measures don’t get a Senate vote, the effort allows Senate lawmakers to send a signal that they will not take a back seat to the House, which is tightly controlled by Madigan. Democrats there are weighing a different budget proposal that would tap into special funds to funnel money to universities and social service providers.