On last day of lame duck session, Illinois lawmakers raise income tax 67%

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January 12, 2011

By Kyle Maichle

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois: On an action-packed last day of lame duck session in the Illinois General Assembly, lawmakers labored through long hours to pass the largest tax increase in state history.[1]

During the afternoon of January 11, 2011, the State House approved a 67 percent income tax increase on a narrow 60 to 57 vote. This raises the flat income tax of 3 percent up to 5 percent. Also, the state's base corporate tax was increased from 4.8 to 7 percent. In the previous days leading up to vote, Democrat lawmakers were undecided on raising the income tax up to 5 or 5.25 percent.[1]

During an emotionally charged debate on the House floor, Representative Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) argued the merits for raising the taxes by saying: "it's time for us to be adults, face the crisis, and figure out a solution." However, Rep. Roger Eddy (R-Hutsonville) blasted the proposal by saying that: "we're saying to the people of Illinois for eight years we've overspent, now we're going to make it your problem."[1]

In the late night hours, the State Senate had their turn to consider the tax hike. Before the Senate casted their votes, State Rep. David Miller collapsed while watching fellow lawmakers debate the proposal. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Miller was released from Springfield's St. John's Hospital at 6:00 AM the next morning according to hospital spokeswoman Sherry Puccetti. Puccetti said that Miller had a case of dizziness.[2]

When the Senate resumed debate, Minority Leader Christine Radogno blasted Democrats for not doing enough to streamline Illinois government. Radongo said: "the one thing that's lacking in this bill is any specifics about how we're going to retool state government." However, Senate President John Cullerton warned to lawmakers that: "we are in desperate need to improve our bond ratings. We will do that by raising this money (taxes)." The Senate approved the tax increases on a close 30-29 vote at 1:20 AM-CST.

Organizations representing businesses in Illinois, including the Illinois Manufacturers' Association, argue that raising taxes would be counterproductive to needed job growth in the state. John O'Hara of the Illinois Policy Institute said taxpayers would lose out on new federal tax reductions as a result of Illinois raising taxes. O'Hara said: "the average Illinois family would save about $800 in taxes. That's essentially wiped out now."[1]

A spokesperson for Governor Pat Quinn said that he would sign the tax increase bill into law as soon as possible.[1]

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