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Income tax question looms as Gov. Quinn prepares for budget speech

1 year, 4 months ago Doug Finke, Gatehouse Media Illinois

Quinn this week finally will outline his spending plan for the next budget year

From Doug Finke, Gatehouse Media Illinois:
More than a month after he originally was supposed to deliver his budget speech, Gov. Pat Quinn this week finally will outline his spending plan for the next budget year.
When he does, Quinn will have to cope with the fact that a large part of the temporary income tax hike is scheduled to expire midway through the budget year, taking with it more than $1 billion in revenue.
Worse, a budget analysis by Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, showed the budget hole that must be filled in the fiscal year that starts July 1 is $2.9 billion. That’s a combination of lost revenue from expiration of the income tax hike (which he put at $1.6 billion) coupled with spending increases the state cannot avoid, such as Medicaid expenses, contractual pay raises and higher pension costs.
It all will be done against the backdrop of what promises to be a contentious political campaign year in which Quinn, a Democrat, is seeking re-election against Republican venture capitalist Bruce Rauner. Heading into the budget speech, there is agreement that it will be political.
“I do think this will help set a tone for the session and so the fall campaign,” said David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University. “I also expect he’ll start to talk to people in Illinois about just how big the budget challenges are in front of us.”
And, Yepsen said, it probably will be vintage Quinn.
“It’s going to be a populist speech,” he said. “It’s clearly a national Democratic theme. It’s there with Madigan’s millionaire tax. I imagine the word ‘populism’ is going to get used an awful lot in the analyses of the speech.”
House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, has introduced a proposed constitutional amendment that would impose a 3 percent income tax surcharge on incomes above $1 million a year. It would raise about $1 billion a year to be used for K-12 education.
“I think people view this as a political speech and a political blueprint,” said Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine, the Senate Republicans’ point person on the budget. “What impact it has on the actual budget is probably negligible.”

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