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The "Crisis of Confidence" series is a multi-year effort by the Tri States Public Radio to document the impact the two-year state budget impasse had on Western Illinois University and the ongoing recovery efforts at WIU. State support for public higher education institutions has been steadily declining in Illinois for more than a decade. But the issue was compounded, during the state's historic two-year budget impasse during Fiscal Years '16 and '17 which left public colleges and universities with little state financial support. At Western Illinois University, that drastic cut in state appropriations resulted in significant budget cuts, employee furloughs, and layoffs.

After Two Years, Illinois Finally has a Budget

NPR Illinois
The Illinois Capitol

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan said a newly approved state budget was the result of bipartisan efforts to end a "destructive" impasse that has gripped state government for more than two years.

The Chicago Democrat delivered a speech from the floor Thursday just after his chamber voted in favor of overturning Republican Governor Bruce Rauner's vetoes on a budget package that include an income tax hike.

Rauner vetoed the package Tuesday.  The Senate voted to override the vetoes a short time later.

71 Democrats and Republicans joined forces in the House to override the veto late Thursday afternoon. Madigan called it the right move for the future of the state.

State Representative Norine Hammond (R-Macomb), who voted in favor of the budget and the veto override, said the state was spending about $39 billion a year while taking in about $30.5 billion. She said the new budget reduces spending to about $36.5 billion and raises the state income tax rate from 3.75% to nearly 5% to help generate the revenue for balancing the plan.

Another Republican who defied Governor Rauner’s command not to override his veto is State Representative Steve Anderson of Geneva, who said, “I believe it’s a historic day because it’s a day where we decide the fate of our state.  Do we want to save it or do we want to let it go into meltdown?”

After the House override vote, Governor Rauner immediately issued a statement blasting the move, calling the day's action "another step in Illinois' never-ending tragic trail of tax hikes."

Rauner said the state needs other reforms, including property tax relief and term limits.

Thursday’s House vote was delayed by a couple hours after crews were called in to investigate a report of a hazardous material in the statehouse.  No hazardous material was found and no one was injured.