SPRINGFIELD – It’s no secret that legislative leaders and Gov. Pat Quinn want to make the temporary income tax permanent, but what is surprising is that lawmakers are drafting a budget based on a tax hike that has yet to pass.
“They are putting the cart before the horse,” said state Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton. “If they want to pass a tax hike, they should pass it and then consider what revenues they have. The approach they are taking makes no sense.”
Ives, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee for Elementary and Secondary Education, said when she expressed these concerns in committee, she was told by committee chairman state Rep. Will Davis, D-Homewood, that any legislators in the group who didn’t like how this was being handled were welcome to leave.
Davis admits he did indeed say this.
“I know not everyone is on board with extending the tax increase,” he said. “But the numbers we are using are based on that. I could have just included Democrats in the working group to discuss this and left the Republicans out. But I wanted Republicans involved too. So I invited them to participate, but I told them if they didn’t feel comfortable participating, they should leave.”
Ives said the committee has failed to properly analyze what programs are working, which ones aren’t and where cuts should be made. She added that is a far more appropriate discussion for committee members to be involved in than discussing revenue numbers based on a tax increase that has yet to be considered by the Legislature.
State Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, said lawmakers are wisely considering all budget alternatives – one for if the tax hike passes and one for if it doesn’t.
“Politically, it doesn’t make much sense for us to vote on this in May,” Jacobs said. “But from a public policy point of view it makes perfect sense. We need to know how much revenue we will have coming in.”
Jacobs said he fully anticipates a vote this month on making permanent the 67 percent temporary tax hike passed in 2011. He added he hasn’t decided how he will vote.
“There really are two schools of thought on this,” he said. “Some people don’t think we should not vote on this in May and if Bruce Rauner wins (the governorship) we just leave him a mess to deal with. Others think that just wouldn’t be responsible.”
State Rep. Frank Mautino, D-Spring Valley, said Tuesday there are not enough votes to pass the extension of the tax increase in the House.
“I think people still have quite a few questions about what the whole tax package is, what it would look like,” he said. “So for that reason, I would say the votes aren’t there to pass it – yet.”
Mautino has said in addition to extending the tax hike, the measure may include spending cuts and some concessions to the business community.
“The presumption that the tax increase is going to stay is a bad presumption,” said state Rep. Ron Sandack, R-Downers Grove. “So this idea that they are going to presume that we are going to have more to spend because the tax increase is going to go into effect is a bad presumption, bad policy and more of the same.”