Report: Quinn considers raising income tax

March 13, 2009 8:22:06 PM PDT
Governor Pat Quinn said on Friday he will propose raising the income tax when he presents his plan for closing the state's budget deficit. That deficit is now estimated to be $11.5 billion. Illinois has had a state income tax since 1969 when it was enacted by then Governor Richard Ogilvie. Many believe that cost Governor Ogilvie the next election. Since then there has only been one adjustment to the tax rate. Next week Governor Quinn is expected to announce his plans for another one.

Quinn has only been governor for only a month and a half and is still in a bit of a honeymoon period. But that may soon come to a screeching halt next week when Pat Quinn prepares to do the one thing that really gets voter's attention: raise taxes.

"Especially the way the economy is, it's too tough on people. When you try to take money for people, that doesn't add on for people in Illinois. I don't see the purpose of that," said Yonel Larose.

"These people think of the taxpayers as an unlimited source of income and we just can't take it anymore," said Jim Tobin, National Taxpayers United Illinois.

Sources tell ABC7 the governor's plan would raise state income taxes by 50 percent to 4.5 percent, although many lower and middle income taxpayers would be frozen.

"It's a principle as old as the Bible. Taxes should be based on ability to pay," said Quinn.

The current 3 percent rate is among the lower state taxes in the country.

By comparison New York's rate is from 4 to almost 7 percent; California from 1 to more than 9 percent; Michigan is nearly 4.5 percent. But several states including Texas have no state income tax.

Experts say, however, there's no other way to close the $11.5 billion budget deficit.

"It could well doom his career, but he doesn't really have a choice. He only can choose which tax to raise," said Dick Simpson, UIC Political Science professor.

Former Governor Rod Blagojevich warned of a major tax increase and said in a statement on Friday, "When Pat Quinn and I ran as a ticket we promised the people not to raise their income taxes. For six years I kept that promise. It took him less than six weeks to break it."

But some say Quinn is dealing with a budget mess Blagojevich created.

"It's the equivalent of saying this boat is taking on water and jumping out and then saying, now you're going to have to bail out this boat," said Paul Green, Roosevelt Political Science professor.

Governor Quinn brushed off questions about his political future when talking about the budget today. Some analysts say the public may not place all the blame for the budget mess on him. But his opponents will likely bring it up when Quinn runs for re-election next year.