Illinois Governor Pits Tax Hikes vs. Major Cuts to Education, Social Services
Gov. Pat Quinn and ruling Democratic lawmakers united Wednesday around what they say is a stark election-year choice — vote now to make permanent the temporary income tax increase they installed three years ago or face major cuts in state spending on education and social services.
But Republican governor candidate Bruce Rauner and GOP lawmakers who are a minority in the General Assembly flatly rejected the way Quinn framed the debate in his budget speech at the Capitol. Calling his plan a blatant money grab, they argued that the only course of action was to begin rolling back the 67 percent tax increase as scheduled in January 2015.
The sharp contrast presented a clear option for voters as the fate of the tax increase takes center stage in the campaigning leading up to the Nov. 4 election — with the potential to influence not just the race for governor but contests up and down the ballot.
House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, both Chicago Democrats, each voiced support for making the levy permanent, injecting the volatile tax issue into electoral contests in which Democrats hope to maintain overwhelming legislative majorities.
Quinn, seeking re-election to a second term after taking over from the impeached Rod Blagojevich in 2009, noted the upcoming election campaign in his 25-minute post-primary budget address without singling out Rauner by name.
“The truth is, those who are telling you that Illinois can tax less and spend less and still expect to fund education are simply not telling you the truth,” Quinn said in a pointed reference to Rauner, who has sought to appeal to voters as a longtime education advocate.