The News-Gazette

Governor says income tax increase will pass if he's re-elected

Monday, August 30, 2010

CHAMPAIGN – His newly revised income tax increase plan, Gov. Pat Quinn said Friday, includes calling on school districts to use property tax cuts to return about one-third of the new money they'd receive.

The governor also said that there would be an income tax increase vote in the Legislature this year if he is elected Nov. 2 and said he hoped Coles County officials would reconsider withdrawing from the FutureGen clean coal project.

Quinn made his remarks in a news conference at the I Hotel in Champaign, following a speech at a symposium on sustainability.

The governor said his proposed increase in the state income tax – from 3 percent to 4 percent – would produce about $3 billion a year.

"I would expect local school districts to abate at least a billion of that $3 billion," Quinn said. "I think that's a pretty good bargain for the taxpayers and also for what we have to do in the 21st century. We cannot use a 19th-century property tax system that is complex, that is fundamentally unfair, it's the most unpopular tax in Illinois."

A Quinn also said that if he wins the gubernatorial election there would be a legislative vote on the income tax increase by the end of the year – but he declined to say how he would find the votes. Speaker Michael Madigan said earlier this year that there weren't enough votes in the House for a tax increase.

"If I win the election on Nov. 2, they will adopt it," he said of the Legislature. "It will be done by the end of this year."

Asked if he had assurances from legislative leaders that there would be a tax vote after the election, he demurred.

"I would say to the speaker of the House and president of the Senate: 'I took this position in the election. Let's go to work. Let's invest in education and cut property taxes.'"

A spokeswoman for Quinn's Republican opponent noted the governor has advanced several income tax increase plans.

"Pat Quinn has proposed a 33 percent increase in income taxes, a 50 percent increase in income taxes and a secret 67 percent increase in income taxes," said Patty Schuh, a spokeswoman for state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington. "But one thing has been consistent: Pat Quinn wants an increase in the income tax on families and businesses. Bill Brady will fight an income tax increase on families and businesses."

Regarding Quinn's promise to have an income tax increase vote if he wins the election, Schuh said, "I suspect he and the Democrat leaders have some secret plan to do that. It would fit right in with Pat Quinn's M.O., unfortunately."
But Quinn said Brady's budget proposal "would lead to higher local property taxes and education that isn't top-notch.

"I'm not for that. I'm for reducing property taxes," Quinn said.

The governor also said that every individual and agency owed money by the cash-strapped state eventually would be paid.

"In the last fiscal year everyone got paid. In this fiscal year everyone will get paid. OK? They'll get paid," he said. "Are there delays? Yes there are. I inherited more than a $10 billion deficit. I didn't create it, but I'm digging our state out of this hole."

Regarding the recently revised FutureGen project, which Coles County officials pulled out of earlier this month, Quinn said, "I didn't have a lot of control over it. The federal Department of Energy made a decision. I hope the people of Mattoon reconsider.

"It isn't as much as they hoped for, but we're going to get a billion dollars to invest in Illinois in 21st-century energy policy. You know when you have the federal government offering over a billion dollars for an energy initiative, it's worth looking at."