CHICAGO — Illinois lawmakers will return to work next week for a two-day special session, called by Gov. Rod Blagojevich, to vote on a scaled-down $25 billion capital budget and to consider school funding issues.
The special session begins Tuesday with discussion focused on education funding and proposed reforms. The move is seen as an effort on the governor’s part to appease the Chicago African-American caucus that supports a proposal to raise income taxes to generate more funds for education and to offset property taxes. However, Blagojevich has said he would veto any income tax increase.
The Wednesday session will be devoted to debate on a revised capital budget unveiled by the governor last week. The new proposal carries a lower price tag than the $34 billion previously floated and has remained stalled in the General Assembly over its funding streams. The latest proposal relies on a lease of the state lottery, transportation funds, borrowing, and local and federal matching funds. Blagojevich eliminated a proposal to expand gaming.
“Last week former U.S. Speaker Dennis Hastert and I sat with leaders from the four caucuses to present a compromise that addresses many of the concerns that legislators had posed with the previous capital plan,” the governor said in a statement. “Now that they have had time to review our proposal, I will convene a special session so that they can pass a plan this summer that will repair and rebuild our state’s infrastructure and put Illinoisans to work.”
Hastert and former Rep. Glenn Poshard helped craft the previous and current proposals. While the controversial gaming component that was rejected by the state Senate has been removed, it remains unclear whether the new plan will win passage given ongoing tensions between the governor and House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago.