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Quinn Calls for 33% Tax Hike

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Blake D. Dvorak

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Addressing the General Assembly today, Gov. Pat Quinn called for a 33% hike in the state income tax to raise $2.8 billion a year and help close the budget deficit. From the Trib:

Quinn wants to increase the personal income tax rate from 3 percent to 4 percent --- a 33 percent increase --- with the corporate tax rate rising from 4.8 percent to 5.8 percent. The tax hike would bring in $2.8 billion a year.

"I believe this 1 percent for education makes sense, and I think the people of Illinois will understand. We must invest in the future, even in these tough economic times," Quinn said. This is urgent. We don't have six months. We don't have six weeks. I challenge the General Assembly to take immediate action to enact the 1 percent for education initiative."

Last year, Quinn unsuccessfully tried to raise the personal income tax rate from 3 percent to 4.5 percent and provide some tax relief.
Bill Brady, talking to reporters after the address, said, "This budget doesn't do anything to bring back the 250,000 jobs we've lost in just this last twelve months." Here's a video, courtesy of Cap Fax:


It's a bold move to call for a tax increase as you're running for reelection. But that's part of Quinn's calculation: He wants to be credited with doing the people's business regardless of political consequences. And many in the media and on the left will say as much.

But it's still a tax increase and voters still generally despise them.

It might seem that Brady's job is easier: Call Quinn a tax-and-spender and promise no new taxes in a Brady Administration. But not so fast. Unless Brady can convince voters that all hell won't break lose without a tax hike, he'll be in danger of appearing unserious -- and, as Jim Edgar said, "naive." That requires a detailed budget blueprint -- not a campaign slogan like "10% cut across the board."

It also requires a bit of economics. Brady need to explain to voters that his opposition to tax increases is about the economy, not the budget. He needs to make the case that his primary concern as governor is to improve the state's economy and put Illinoisans back to work. Which means the budget crisis is almost secondary.

Journalists, politicos, policy wonks, etc. hate hearing that. For many of them, the state's fiscal health is the economy, and for Brady to focus on one at the expense of the other is incomprehensible. And that's why there's going to be a lot more backlash against Brady for opposing tax hikes than Quinn for proposing them: All the schools that will close; all the inmates who will be released; all the social services that won't be delivered -- these stories will dominate coverage of Brady's economic agenda. 

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1 Comment

unclemiltie said:

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quinn has thrown a juicy one, so now brady has to hit it our of the park

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