Why an Illinois Income Tax Hike Will Wait for Fall

It sounds like a non sequitur: Illinois has an early primary election date and that might mean an income tax increase. Illinois policymakers seem to ...
by | July 13, 2009
 

It sounds like a non sequitur: Illinois has an early primary election date and that might mean an income tax increase.

Illinois policymakers seem to think that voters want every election to drag on as interminably as a presidential election. The Illinois primary -- for state legislators, governor, Congress and others -- will be February 2, 2010. The general election will be November 2, exactly nine months later.

In others words, pitchers and catchers won't have even reported to spring training by the time of the primary. By the general election, the Cubs or White Sox may already have held their World Series victory parade.

What does that have to do with the income tax? When primary dates are early, candidate filing deadlines must be even earlier. That's key to Gov. Pat Quinn's push for the tax increase, as the Chicago Tribune explains:

After months of constant calls to immediately increase income taxes to help balance the budget, Quinn said Friday he's willing to wait until November for another vote on the issue.

That's preferable to some lawmakers who were open to raising taxes but fearful of sticking their necks out for an unpopular vote before an election year. Many lawmakers remain spooked after spring municipal elections saw voters overwhelmingly elect new representation and symbolically reject Democratic Cook County Board President Todd Stroger's sales tax increase.

By November, however, candidates will have filed paperwork for next year's election. If they don't face strong opponents, more lawmakers may be willing to vote for an income tax increase.

The irony here is that Quinn wanted to move the primary to a later date, but was rebuffed by the legislature. He'll probably be glad he lost that fight if he gets his way on the income tax.

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

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