House rejects tax increase in budget battle

May 31, 2009 (SPRINGFIELD, Ill.) Governor Pat Quinn is in a state of denial tonight, refusing to accept that the Illinois house of representatives has soundly defeated his income tax increase proposal by a vote of 74 to 42, with two members voting present. The governor says he'll call a meeting with the four legislative leaders tomorrow morning. He wants to continue negotiations and to set the stage for a special session and another vote on the tax.

"When something doesn't go your way, you pick yourself up and go back to work," Governor Pat Quinn said.

Sleep-deprived and disappointed, the governor spoke after the House bulldozed his tax increase plan. Over two dozen Democrats joined Republicans to defeat the bill.

"The income tax is a tax better than most to raise. The reality is, if you don't have an income, you don't have to pay it," House Minority Leader Tom Cross said.

"Does the economy factor into this you bet it does. It exacerbates the problem. But the economy is not the reason we are in the trouble we are in today," House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie said.

Later, the House approved the so-called "doomsday" budget: to cut state grants most for social programs by 50 percent across the board.

The governor vowed not to sign the recently-passed capital bill supported by trade unions and their lobbyists until there's revenue to support the operating budget.

"I don't want to have a situation where some people who don't happen to have a lot of political power and don't have friends in high places are pushed to the side of the road and abandoned," Quinn said.

The house did not vote on a tax increase bill passed in the Senate last night that would raise the rate from current 3 to 5 percent, with property tax relief and money for education. "We have a bill that has passed the Illinois Senate and should be called for a vote," State Senator Rev. James Meeks said.

But the governor says his bill--calling for an increase from 3 to 4.5 percent--has the best chance of passing. And he theorized it went down tonight because lawmakers were trying to make a point.

"I do think there may have been a feeling on the part of some that they wanted to have one vote against taxes. Ok, they had their vote. They voted no. Now we have to have another vote to get a budget," Quinn said.

The governor never used the words "special session" when talking about another vote under, or the circumstances under which another vote might occur. So we won't know exactly what the technical circumstances will be after midnight tonight. But we do know that a new vote on a tax increase bill will require a 3/5 majority to succeed, that's 71 votes in the House and 36 votes in the Senate.

One other note, the House also tonight approved the ethics reform bill it was considering. It will now be sent to the governor. Critics say that that bill does not go far enough, that there are too many loopholes left in it, but it is a done deal here in Springfield.

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