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Pritzker says budget passed early morning because ‘everybody wanted to go home’

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(The Center Square) – Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is heralding a budget that Republicans say was crammed down taxpayers throats in the dead of night.

After the Senate approved the state budget package late in the evening Sunday, the House took the measure up in the early morning hours Wednesday. The measure spends $53.1 billion and increases a variety of taxes on businesses by about $730 million.

State Rep. Patrick Windhorst, R-Metropolis, called out Democrats in the supermajority for violating their own rules by attempting to concur on one of the measures three times when rules only allow two attempts.

“I think it should be clear to everyone in this 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,” Windhorst said.

The first two attempts to pass the revenue package failed as there weren’t enough “yes” votes in the chamber.

Hours later during a news conference in his office in Springfield, Pritzker was asked if it’s responsible to pass such a large spending plan so early in the morning when people are sleep deprived.

“The fact that they voted on it early in the morning was really a function of everybody wanted to go home,” Pritzker said.

The $53.1 billion spending plan is the most expensive taxpayer funded state budget in Illinois history, 32% more than the state spent in 2019. Pritzker said he will sign the package.

The measure includes tax credits for music, live theater, the electric vehicle industry, giving to endowments and more. State Rep. Dan Caulkins, R-Decatur, said the state funds all kinds of things.

“But we are not doing the one thing that we should be doing and that’s ensuring that our children who are in underperforming schools have an opportunity to get a scholarship to a school that will better prepare them for the future,” Caulkins said.

Pritzker put blame on the legislature for not reauthorizing Invest in Kids, but criticized the original measure.

“If you’re going to have a tax credit like that, we ought to let the federal government cover much of the cost of it which we weren’t doing,” Pritzker said.

The program was allowed to sunset last year. Before it ended, tens of thousands of families benefited.

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