- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 13, 2014

May 11, 2014

The (Alton) Telegraph

Meanwhile, in Springfield

The next few weeks will tell us a lot about whose interests are being served in Springfield.

Mere days remain in the spring legislative session, but one of the biggest issues facing lawmakers remains - whether Illinois taxpayers will be saddled with a sinful 67 percent increase in state income tax.

The increase was greased through in 2011 with the help of lame-duck legislators and a governor who doesn’t seem to think people will remember when he says one thing - promising to veto any call for a tax increase of more than 33 percent - and does another - championing a wallet-draining 67 percent rise.

The money, it was promised, was going to help back down a mountain of overdue bills that contributed to Illinois having one of the worst credit reputations in the nation.

That didn’t happen. Little if any of the money went for the intended use and as a result the state remains almost as in debt as years ago.

By the time the tax was supposed to be nearing its end, savvy voters had already clued in to the need for quotes around Quinn’s use of the word “temporary.”

Two proposals for changing the tax structure in the state failed to advance because of a lack of support. One, pushed by House Speaker Michael Madigan, would have created a “millionaire tax” in which those making a million dollars or more in a year would have additional taxes. The other would have switched to a “progressive” tax - another attempt to convince taxpayers they would be paying less that came unraveled because someone did the math. The promise most people would end up paying less in taxes under the plan turned out to be not so true.

Now it’s down to extended the “temporary” tax, and Quinn and Madigan are all in favor of the idea.

Can they get the votes?

Not if lawmakers do what’s best for taxpayers, who on average lose about a week’s pay because of the increase. Many legislators also recognize the political tightrope they would be walking to vote for this in an election year.

There’s some talk around the Capitol that a one-year extension could be floated, which would keep Democratic leadership from having to present a scorched earth budget but be a little more palatable to voters.

We’d rather see a plan that honors the promises made to taxpayers from the beginning.

Story Continues →