* I told subscribers about this earlier today…
Although the so-called “middle of the road” budget plan may be more palatable to election-minded lawmakers, the new approach nearly guarantees Gov. Pat Quinn will have to navigate some serious financial potholes as he runs the state and plots his re-election chances against Republican Bruce Rauner.
The proposal, for example, won’t account for rising wages, higher health insurance bills and other unavoidable cost increases in the fiscal year beginning July 1, meaning even a flat budget in some state agencies could still seem like a significant cut — especially once the temporary tax hike expires at the end of the year.
“It’s still going to feel very draconian,” said Rikeesha Phelon, spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago. “The agencies will have their challenges.”
Without an increase to payroll and health insurance lines, the state may very well be forced to lay off workers.
Earlier this year, the Senate Democrats estimated that total “increased costs from legally binding personnel contracts” for next fiscal year would be $373 million.
*** UPDATE *** So much for that idea…
A bid to fight obesity through taxing sweetened drinks lost its fizz Tuesday as a House committee rejected a plan that could have injected $600 million into the state treasury.
The measure, which failed by a 2-7 vote, would have charged a penny more per ounce on sweetened beverages, making a 2-liter bottle of soda cost about 67 cents more than its artificially sweetened, zero-calorie counterpart.
“I think the public policy initiative is good; I just think you’re really hitting the consumer with a substantial tax that, to me, is not consistent,” said Rep. David Harris, R-Arlington Heights, who voted against the legislation.
But state Rep. Robyn Gabel, D-Evanston, the sponsor of the sugar tax, said the difference in cost was necessary because it incentivized choosing the healthier drink.