Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Doomed from the start?

House Speaker Michael Madigan is expected to answer the governor’s call by introducing his own budget tonight. It’s a limited-growth budget proposal that includes closing corporate loopholes to the tune of $300 million dollars, said Chicago Democratic Rep. Jay Hoffman after House Democrats finished their caucus Wednesday afternoon. “There’s many more that should be on the table,” he said. “But this is a start.”

Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, a Chicago Democrat, said on the House floor no business groups voiced opposition to the closing of the selected tax breaks, including state income tax exemptions for corporations engaged in real estate investment trusts (she cited Wal-Mart). And car rental companies that don’t pay sales taxes on cars that they buy and then rent would no longer get that exemption. The measure hasn’t been called for a final vote, yet.

Madigan’s limited-growth budget also would rely on natural revenue growth, estimated to be less than $800 million.

Not everyone is happy. “There’s a consensus about $300 million [in revenue], and there’s consensus about $800 million in spending,” said Rep. Robert Molaro, another Chicago Democrat. “Consensus. I didn’t say 60 votes.”

Rep. Marlow Colvin, a Chicago Democrat and head of the Black Caucus, said he would vote against the budget on the House floor. He wasn’t happy that the RTA and the CTA aren’t slated to receive much-needed money in Madigan’s short-term budget. Molaro said legislators would have to return in the summer to do more work.

Legislators are certain the budget bill will be called tonight. They’re not so sure it will be approved.

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