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Illinois 2020 Election Ramifications

November 5, 2020

While a few legislative races are still being tabulated, Democrats maintained their supermajority status in both the Illinois House of Representatives and Senate in this election cycle. Current projections, that are subject to change pending mail-in ballots, are for a Democrat supermajority of 72-46 in the House and 41-18 in the Senate. This was not an unexpected outcome, though most pre-election predictions had the Democrats achieving an even wider gap in the Legislature. What is unexpected, however, is the first challenge to Michael J. Madigan’s speakership in more than 40 years. Ongoing federal investigations and deepening ethical accusations have caused several Democrat caucus members to indicate their reluctance to support the Speaker’s reelection to the top post in the House. One member has already announced their candidacy for Speaker. His total control over the finances of the Democrat Party as Chairman, however, makes this a very difficult situation for many members that have accepted his financial support.

The defeat of the constitutional amendment to replace the state’s flat income tax with a progressive income tax deals a major blow to Governor Pritzker, who made this a cornerstone to his upcoming legislative agenda. Without the tax change which would have taken place on January 1, the state’s budget will see an immediate $4B hole appear. This is where the supermajorities in the House and the Senate could cause major headaches for Democrats. Republicans will undoubtedly lay the almost certain tax and fee increases needed to close the gap at the feet of Democrats. There may also be cuts to both the current state budget, which is less than half-way through, and next fiscal year’s plan as well. The Governor has already asked agency directors to identify 5% cuts to their budgets for the remainder of this fiscal year, and another 10% for the next fiscal year which begins on July 1. Needless to say, political gamesmanship and intrigue in Springfield will be at an all-time high.

All of these components add up to what could be a volatile and unpredictable legislative environment going forward. The two-week veto session is currently scheduled to begin on November 17 and continue into early December. The full session of the newly seated General Assembly will convene in January following a potential “lame duck” session where potential tax and fee increases could be passed utilizing the votes of legislators who were just defeated. This particular “lame duck” session could also be used to pass controversial measures that normally would not be able to get widespread political support. 

 Legislation will most likely be introduced to:

  • Raise the state’s flat rate income tax to offset the defeat of the Governor‘s progressive income tax amendment
  • Identify severe cuts to most state programs
  • Implement social equity measures across multiple industries and state programs
  • Strengthen ethics provisions in state government in response to recent corruption investigations
  • Increase renewable energy usage statewide
  • Explore expansion of the state sales tax base
  • Make further regulatory changes to the state’s growing cannabis and hemp industries
  • Implement additional criminal justice reforms

 For more information about election ramifications in Illinois, please contact Mark Boozell (312-627-2118 or mboozell@dykema.com) or Scott Selinger (217-494-8040).

As part of our service to you, we regularly compile short reports on new and interesting developments and the issues the developments raise. Please recognize that these reports do not constitute legal advice and that we do not attempt to cover all such developments. Rules of certain state supreme courts may consider this advertising and require us to advise you of such designation. Your comments are always welcome. © 2020 Dykema Gossett PLLC.