Quinn: Election win 'mandate' for tax hike

FILE: Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is shown in this image.

November 9, 2010 4:42:53 AM PST
Governor Pat Quinn says the state's financial crisis is at the top of his agenda as he heads back to work after a tough election fight.

The governor says that means he plans to push for a state income tax increase. But with anti-tax fever sweeping the country, the question is: Will Quinn find enough votes in Springfield?

The governor says he campaigned on the truth, he won election, and his victory -- however slim -- is a "mandate" for a state income tax hike.

Some of his opponents don't see "mandate" in a victory so narrow. They've referred to the governor as "Three County Quinn."

The winners and losers, nearly a week beyond the election, continue to make nice with congratulations and an open wish for common ground. Soon again, though, comes the business of governing. Quinn believes his win is a mandate for an income tax increase.

"I think that's absolutely true," Quinn said Friday. "The people understood my position and they voted for me. The majority carried the day. We'll have to get more revenue to get Illinois to a better place."

Pat Quinn won by 20,000 votes. He was victorious in only three of the state's 102 counties.

"I think mandate might be an overstatement. We all want to work together and solve the state's problems, but we're gonna need to go into this on both sides with some humility," said State Sen. Matt Murphy, (R) Palatine.

Educators are loathe to make more cuts. Pension reform is explosive. So is slicing social services.

Republicans argue that there must be fundamental changes in things like Medicaid funding before they'll consider what the governor considers a mandate.

"If all you do is come along and say the governor got a tax increase without change, we'll be -- or someone will be -- having this discussion in four or five years or 10 years, because we can't keep doing the same thing as the past, because it's not working," said State Rep. Tom Cross, Illinois House GOP leader.

"I'm even open to temporary tax hikes if that's what Republicans want to do," said Democratic Sen. John Cullerton, senate president. "We're open to anything reasonable, so we can get the budget crisis over, so we can continue to create jobs, which is what we're starting to see in the last few months."

The Dems say an income tax hike doesn't happen without Republican support. The Republicans say they need not be even asked for support until and unless they have a place at the table.

"We're willing to share the load on spending cuts, but until any of that happens, whether it's temporary or permanent, talk of a tax hike is premature," said Murphy.

Speaker Mike Madigan and house Republican leader Tom Cross have had a post-election chat, but Cross says they did not discuss substantive issues.

Madigan's spokesman says the speaker has no plans to call for any vote on an income tax hike.


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