(Springfield, IL) — January 13, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn said yesterday he would give his signature to a 67% personal income tax increase.
“We have an emergency, a fiscal emergency. Our state was careening towards bankruptcy and fiscal insolvency. Even in the last couple of months the situation got seriously more dire,” Quinn said.
The new tax is estimated to bring in more than $6 billion, which will be used to pay down what could be a $15 billion deficit.
Residents in the state will be handing over an extra 2 percent of their income to the state under the tax increase. Rates will go from 3% to 5% for four years, and are set to go down to 3.75% in 2015. However, the Legislature in office at that time could vote to make the 5% rate permanent.
Controversial and contentious is how House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) described the recent General Assembly’s actions.
Madigan made his remarks as the newly elected Legislature was sworn in Wednesday.
“The recent session of the General Assembly was among the most controversial, among the most contentious, and yes, among one of the most successful sessions in the history of this state,” the Chicago Democrat said.
Republicans might disagree whether the session was a success. The income tax increase passed with the minimum votes in both chambers with no Republican support. Many Republicans said reforming the public pensions and Medicaid systems didn’t go far enough in cutting government bloat.
“We still have to work on the jobs climate in this state. I’m very encouraged about your focus on workers compensation. I do believe that’s an extraordinarily difficult issue. But I think you and I, and the caucuses we lead, our colleagues, we can move forward on that. And I really look forward to working on that,” Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno said.
State Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) said he understands that more needs to be done and looks forward to working with Radogno and the rest of the GOP.
“I believe that we in the Senate have created a workplace of cooperation and bipartisanship in the past two years, even though you may not agree with all we’ve done,” Cullerton said shortly after being re-elected as the Senate president.
Leaders for both political parties said the Legislature needs to learn austerity so it can climb out of a billion-dollar budget hole and stop the same thing from repeating.
“We have to learn to live within our means. We cannot backtrack on those changes we made in the Medicaid system. We cannot backtrack on those changes we made to the pension system. That’s going to require courage. That’s going to require people to say no,” Madigan said.
Andrew Thomason, Illinois Statehouse News