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Madigan takes another shot at "millionaire's tax" with non-binding version

6 months, 1 week ago Associated Press

Binding version of ballot question failed to get approval earlier this year

From Associated Press:

Powerful Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan on Thursday resurrected a proposed ballot measure to impose a tax surcharge on millionaires that had earlier failed to win broad support, in a move Republicans criticized as abdicating to voters the job of dealing with tough issues such as tax increases.

Madigan proposed a non-binding ballot question asking voters whether the state should place a 3 percent surcharge on annual personal income over $1 million, which could join several other referendums that Democrats and Republicans want on the November ballot to drive voter turnout in a nationally-watched governor's race.

Madigan told a panel which approved the proposal by a 6-4 vote that he would have preferred to advance it another way.

But his effort earlier this year to get a binding measure on the ballot to increase taxes on millionaires failed to get the three-fifths majority necessary in the Legislature.

Madigan said the tax would raise $1 billion annually for elementary and secondary education. The money would be distributed to schools based on the number of students they serve.

Republicans on the panel questioned the strategy of lawmakers shunting tough decisions directly to the voters.

"Isn't there a genuine concern that the tough issues that legislators should deal with ... are being handled by voters?" state Rep. David Harris of Arlington Heights asked, referring to the host of measures which could be on the November ballot.

Unlike some states such as California, Illinois does not have a history of voters deciding issues by ballot initiative.

But Madigan dismissed questions about political motivations, noting "cynics and critics will be cynics and critics."

Having voters' support would help next year to pass the millionaires tax in the Legislature, Madigan said.

The move comes on the heels of Madigan's introduction last week of a different ballot question, asking if voters thought lawmakers should approve increasing the state's minimum wage to $10 an hour, and joins other questions on voter protections and victim's rights.

The slew of ballot questions is designed to drive voters inclined to vote Democratic to the polls and offset GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner's own ballot initiative, which would ask voters whether the state constitution should be amended to limit the terms of lawmakers to eight years.

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