Gov. Quinn says he'll keep fighting for income tax cut despite lack of support in legislature
There aren't enough votes in the House to pass Gov. Pat Quinn's income tax hike.
There aren't enough votes in the Senate to pass Quinn's income tax hike.
Quinn isn't deterred.
"No, it's not (dead)," Quinn said Thursday. "We have until midnight on Sunday. I'm working night and day on that matter."
Quinn's proposal to raise the state income tax by 50 percent, coupled with some tax relief measures, is foundering in the General Assembly, even after he retooled the plan to devote more money to state programs and less to tax relief.
In the Senate, only five Democrats support the Quinn income tax hike, said a spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago. No Republicans support the plan, said Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont.
Between 30 and 40 House Democrats are solidly for the plan, according to sources, with another dozen "leaning" toward voting for it. It needs 60 votes to pass, meaning some Republicans will have to vote for it to pass. Rep. Raymond Poe, R-Springfield, said he doesn't know of any Republicans who would vote for the plan now, including himself.
"We have concerns with how they will spend the money," Poe said. "We've not been included in any of that (discussion), which programs they are going to fund."
After meeting with Quinn and House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, Cullerton said it will be up to the House to take the first votes on a tax hike.
"Any effort on the income tax will be initiated in the House and then the Senate will respond," Cullerton said.
Madigan declined to answer questions after the meeting.
Lawmakers are rapidly running out of time to craft a budget if they want to avoid the supermajority requirement – three-fifths, as opposed to a simple majority – that kicks in June 1. The tough alternatives facing lawmakers probably means a final decision will be put off until the last minute, said Rep. Frank Mautino, D-Spring Valley.
"If someone tells you they can (balance the budget) without either raising taxes or hurtful cuts, they are lying. They are not being realistic," Mautino said.
One option apparently still being discussed is to give state agencies lump sums of money and tell them they have to make it stretch, rather than lawmakers specifying how much should be spent on each item within an agency.
"If you want to give the directors the ability to manage their budgets, they can probably get through to February or March of next year," Mautino said.
Cullerton said he is against cobbling together a budget that only gets the state through part of the year. Quinn, too, said that is a bad idea.
"The public wants a year budget that is balanced and is fair and makes some tough choices – not bad choices, tough choices," Quinn said.
"I'm confident that the members of the General Assembly will live up to their responsibilities to have a balanced budget. We are not a deadbeat state."
Doug Finke can be reached at (217) 788-1527 email@example.com.