Big Financial Woes Linger in Illinois’ New Budget

Illinois’ first budget after two years is filled with partial outlines to address its debt-ridden pension system and unpaid bill backlog — signs that political fighting and the fiscal mess in the nation’s fifth-largest state are far from over.

At least 15 House and Senate Republicans broke with first-term Republican Governor Bruce Rauner on Thursday and joined with Democrats to override Rauner’s vetoes of the state’s first budget package in more than two years.

The $36 billion spending plan relies on a $5 billion tax increase that permanently hikes the flat personal income tax rate to 4.95 percent, up 32 percent from its prior 3.75 percent rate.

To address the state’s nearly $15 billion in unpaid bills, Illinois depends heavily on borrowing. Lawmakers approved $6 billion of 12-year bonds to raise money for repayments. But State Representative Greg Harris, the House Democrats’ point person on the budget, has acknowledged there

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