SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn will try Monday to persuade House Democrats to extend the state's temporary income tax increase – an election-year vote the governor says is necessary to avoid "savage" budget cuts but that has yet to win the support needed for approval.
With two weeks to go in the spring legislative session, Democrats – who hold 71 seats in the 118-member House – don't have the 60 votes needed to make the 2011 tax hike permanent, largely because of reluctance among lawmakers facing tough re-elections this fall. All House Republicans oppose the increase.
The tax hike is scheduled to roll back in January, from 5 percent to 3.75 percent for individuals. That would reduce state revenue next year by about $1.8 billion.
Quinn, a Chicago Democrat in the midst of his own difficult re-election bid, has said the drop in revenue would lead to massive cuts to areas such as education, social services and public safety. He has said he will do everything he can to pass the tax increase and a proposed $38 billion budget that would increase funding for education and other areas.
Quinn's closed-door meeting with House Democrats late Monday afternoon was his latest effort to try to sway hesitant House Democrats to vote "yes." The measure is expected to have enough votes to pass in the Senate, where Democrats also have a supermajority.
Earlier Monday, Democratic Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie of Chicago filed legislation to extend the tax increase. It would keep the rate for individuals at 5 percent and for corporations at 7 percent. The rate for corporations had been slated to drop to 5.25 percent.
The House adopted a $37 billion budget last week that begins July 1, but the plan relies on making the tax increase permanent.
Quinn's Republican opponent, businessman Bruce Rauner, said Monday the budget process demonstrated a "lack of leadership." Rauner opposes the tax increase but hasn't outlined how he would balance a budget without it.