Quinn outlines plan to raise taxes

March 17, 2009 8:54:43 PM PDT
Governor Pat Quinn outlined his plan to raise taxes in Illinois on Tuesday night. And on Wednesday he'll try to sell his plan to taxpayers and legislators in an address which is set for noon in Springfield. The Quinn administration released its budget plan about 18 hours earlier than expected. With a $12 billion budget deficit looming, the governor said it's high time Illinois taxpayers were told the truth that the state needs more of their money.

"The citizens of Illinois want honest leadership and they need straight talk," said Gov. Quinn.

But the governor and his critics still differ on whether to call the Quinn plan an income tax increase or as he prefers "tax reform."

"Five million people under our plan will receive tax cuts or lower taxes," said Quinn.

But Republicans and some Democrats insist that no matter how many exemptions the state offers middle to low income families the Quinn plan is still an increase from 3 to 4.5 percent.

"We're asking Illinois families to sacrifice?we're not asking, they're doing it but we're asking them to pay 50 percent more in taxes," said State Rep. Tom Cross, (R) House Minority Leader.

"We need to stop framing the issue around taxes. People are tired of paying taxes," said State Sen. Martin Sandoval, (D) Chicago.

The plan to fill the $11.6 billion hole is outlined in a 41-page booklet. There are 2 percent cuts in virtually every state program with the exception of those related to health, education or public safety. Medicare and pension reform could save billions and the administration will try to delay this and next year' payments to the retirement funds.

"He's going to skip pension payments again which is right out of the Rod Blagojevich playbook," said State Sen. Kirk Dillard, (R) Naperville.

The Quinn plan does not include layoffs but would require most state workers to take four unpaid furlough days. The governor tried to sell his ideas on Tuesday to his fellow Democrats. House Speaker Michael Madigan would not comment but others noted a different tone than in the Blagojevich days.

"He's trying to solve problems and we all applauded him for that," said State Sen. James Meeks, (D) Chicago.

To fund a $26 billion capital program to rebuild roads and bridges the governor recommends increasing the cost of a license plate from $79 to $99 dollars and a driver's license from $10 to $20. The vehicle transfer fee would go from $65 to $105 and a registration fee in Illinois would double from $15 to $30.

The governor's plan did not include an increase in the gasoline tax but ABC7 has learned that House and Senate budgeteers are considering an increase in the gasoline tax. It will take the governor, the House and the Senate to approve any spending plan, including higher taxes, before they are adopted.