IL-GOV: Can Hynes Win on Taxes?

In general elections, it's usually good politics to criticize tax increases. But what about in a Democratic primary in a blue state? That isn'...
by | August 10, 2009

In general elections, it's usually good politics to criticize tax increases. But what about in a Democratic primary in a blue state? That isn't quite the question that Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes' gubernatorial candidacy will answer, but it's close.

Hynes has launched his challenge to Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. His message focuses on taxes, as the Journal-Register reports:

Hynes continued his criticism of how Quinn has dealt with the state budget. Quinn unsuccessfully sought to have the General Assembly increase the state income tax.

"His first instinct was to say we have to take the existing government we have, as it is, and infuse $4.5 billion into it in the form of a 50 percent tax increase," Hynes said. "I think that it was important early on to establish with the people of Illinois that we were going to make the necessary cuts and sacrifices within government."

Hynes says he's known "cuts alone weren't going to be the solution," and offered alternatives that "wouldn't hurt hard-working families and that in a lot of ways are discretionary or optional," such as higher cigarette taxes or an expansion of the sales tax to luxury services, such as country clubs and skyboxes.

Hynes, as you can see, is proposing some tax increases -- he would hardly be a Democrat if he thought a massive budget shortfall should be closed exclusively with spending cuts. Still, he's hoping Democratic voters will be amenable to a message that labels his opponent a tax-and-spender.

In practice, partisans don't always conform to the beliefs that animate them in theory. Many Republicans like Medicare, even though it consists of the government providing health insurance to millions of Americans. Perhaps, many Illinois Democrats think their taxes are too high.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com  | 

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