Gov. Quinn signs income tax increase bill

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is shown in this file image.

January 13, 2011 8:18:07 PM PST
Illinois workers will now pay 66.66 percent more in state income taxes.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed the new tax hike into law Thursday, according to a press release from his office. The bill passed by just one vote.

Effective immediately, Illinois workers will start paying 66.66 percent more in state income taxes by the end of the month. Also, because of the increase in state income tax, many workers will not see the benefit of a federal tax break.

The woman in charge of the state's checkbook says the increase will not solve Illinois' budget crisis.

Judy Baar Topinka has been in politics most of her life. So the last few years, she says, were frustrating as she sat on the sidelines watching the Illinois fiscal crisis get worse.

"One reason why I ran was I couldn't stand being on the outside, throwing my shoe at the television set, saying, 'You gotta stop that,'" Topinka said.

The newly-elected Illinois comptroller is the state's fiscal officer, but she has no vote in the state legislature, which just approved a 66 percent income tax increase. It is a move she opposed, not because of the increased taxes but she says it fails to solve the budget deficit.

"This state has to slim down. It's got to diet. And right now, it is obese," Topinka said.

Her office's budget projects 3 percent growth and a 2 percent spending increase each year as allowed in the tax law. She estimates that still means a more than $2 billion deficit every fiscal year and a total of more than $12 billion in the red by 2015.

Still, many advocacy groups such as Voices for Illinois Children say the state has and will continue to make painful cuts but the tax increase is necessary.

"The investments that we make today in children's well-being, especially the youngest of children, really pay off over the long run," said Sean Nobel with Voices for Illinois Children.

Topinka says she will continue to push for cuts in spending, including one that she says would save the state $12 million but also cost her a job by combining the comptroller's office with the state treasurer.