Higher taxes, fees part of Quinn's budget plan
The state income tax - now at 3 percent - could be increased to 4.5 percent.
The state cigarette tax could be increased by up to $1 a pack over two years.
Driver’s licenses could increase by $10 and plate stickers by $20.
Gov. Pat Quinn will dig into the pockets of wage earners, drivers and cigarette smokers as he tries to come up with the cash to close a gaping $11.5 billion hole in the state budget.
But when Quinn outlines his budget plan in a speech to the General Assembly at noon Wednesday, he will try to ease some of that financial pain by calling for a state sales tax holiday in August as families do their school shopping.
He'll do this before skeptical lawmakers who spent the last seven years locked in a constant budget struggle with the hugely unpopular and untrusted Rod Blagojevich. Even before hearing Quinn's speech – the first budget address he's ever given – lawmakers said they would be in no rush to rubber-stamp Quinn's requests.
"I guarantee you no blank checks are going to be passed around here for anybody," said Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan. "He's got to tell us where this money is going to go to. Where are the cuts going to go to? Tell us the whole package."
Some of the money raising ideas and cuts are beginning to leak out, but Sen. John Sullivan, D-Rushville, said he's seen a substantially longer list. He declined to say what is on it because it was shown to him in confidence.
"It's only the tip of the iceberg," Sullivan said of the details released so far.
Quinn has talked for weeks about raising the state income tax, although the exact amount still seems to be unresolved. The state taxes income at 3 percent. Quinn would most likely raise that to 4 percent or 4.5 percent.
At the same time, Quinn would raise the exemption to $6,000, providing relief to taxpayers at the lower end of the income scale. Local governments, though, wouldn't be so lucky. They collect a share of state income taxes and if the state raises the tax, local governments share in a bigger piece of the pie. Quinn, though, reportedly plans to have the state keep all of the additional tax collected this time, something sure to anger cash-strapped local governments.
Quinn reportedly will call for doubling the state cigarette tax – adding another $1 per pack – over the next two years. He would also double the price of a drivers' license from $10 to $20. The licenses are good for four years.
License plate stickers would also go up, from the current $79 to $99.
Quinn would give Illinois residents something to anticipate in August, lifting the state sales tax on back-to-school clothes and other items. Lawmakers have suggested the break before, but never agreed on it.
"There are no good choices here at all," Sullivan said. "Without a doubt there will be some voter backlash. We have to raise taxes and cut services. I see no way to avoid that."
Doug Finke can be reached at (217) 788-1527 email@example.com.