Illinois Senate approves income tax hike

May 31, 2009 (SPRINGFIELD, Ill.) On the line is Governor Quinn's proposal to increase the state income tax. He says it's necessary to plug Illinois' $10 billion deficit.

The bill, however, is not getting much support. If the income tax hike is not passed, virtually all social service programs underwritten by the state could be eliminated or severely reduced.

As 5 p.m. Saturday, 31 hours until the Sunday midnight deadline for this session of the legislature, the Illinois House of Representatives still had not taken a vote on the bill. That's because Governor Quinn and House Speaker Michael Madigan had not found enough votes to pass the measure they say is necessary for Illinois government to continue as we've known it for so many years.

Currently, all Republicans oppose the proposed increase, which would be between 3 and 4.5 percent, and 10 to 15 Democrats have joined them.

The bill was presented to the House committee Saturday morning by Representative Barbara Flynn Currie of Hyde Park.

"This would bring about $4.5 billion to the treasury of the state of Illinois," said Currie. "I would urge the committee, these are $4.5 billion that the state desperately needs, if we are to fulfill our responsibilities to people who depend on the state of Illinois."

"With the increase, Illinois would actually have the second highest corporate income tax rate in the nation. A lot of the time here at the state, we only talk about the state portion of the income tax, but all of our businesses and corporations also pay 2.5 percent on the personal property replacement tax," said Todd Maisch of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.

If the bill does not pass by the deadline, a special session will have to be called, which means it would require a three-fifths margin victory. It is thought that would be virtually impossible.

Democrats were holding off the vote as long as possible, hoping Saturday to shake away some of the Republican 'no' votes.

If the measure fails, the budget would be $7.5 billion short of what it was in the previous year.After July 1st, the social service programs that relay on state grants would be cut off immediately; those programs would have to go out of business. That's why the upcoming vote is being watched very closely by social service agencies, which were crowding the capital Saturday evening, watching to see what happens.

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