Quinn’s announcement Wednesday that he intends to push for a permanent extension of a temporary income tax he enacted in 2011 represents a huge political Achilles’ heel for him in his campaign against Republican Bruce Rauner.
But will it be fatal?
It’s too early to judge, though Dawn Clark Netsch’s 1994 campaign for governor largely was derailed by early summer that year because of her advocacy for an income-tax increase as part of a school-funding, tax-swap plan.
Quinn, by contrast, ran and narrowly won the Executive Mansion in 2010 when he embraced a 1-percentage point increase in what then was Illinois’ 3-percent individual income tax.
In his speech, Quinn said such a reduction in revenue would mean 13,000 teachers would be laid off, 30,000 fewer students receiving assistance for college expenses, 21,000 fewer seniors receiving home care services and 41,000 fewer children in child care.
By extending the tax, Quinn said “we can stabilize the budget for the long term in a way that provides targeted tax relief where it’s needed most, to homeowners and working families raising kids.”
* Illinois Issues…
Quinn offered property tax relief and an incremental doubling of the Earned Income Tax Credit as potential sweetener that might help the income tax proposal go down with voters. […]
Not surprisingly, a recent poll from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois Carbondale found that 60 percent of voters oppose making the tax rates permanent. However, the majority of respondents liked major state services and were opposed to cutting them. Voters were also opposed to taxing retirement income or increasing sales taxes. The only new revenue source that more than half of those polled supported was expanding gambling. […]
Quinn’s proposal has the backing of the legislative leaders in his party. “I would commend the governor for his political courage and honesty,” House Speaker Michael Madigan told Illinois Public Television’s Jak Tichenor, host of Illinois Lawmakers. Madigan said that he “demanded” property tax relief be included in a proposal to make the tax rates permanent. “I plan to support the governor’s position on the extension of the income tax increase,” said Madigan. “If we wish to continue to provide the level of services which we’ve become accustomed to for education and other purposes, then the income tax increase should be extended.”
* Bruce Rauner…
“Pat Quinn first promised the working people of Illinois he wouldn’t raise taxes by 67%. He broke that promise, taking away nearly a week’s worth of pay for Illinois families. Then he promised his tax hike would be temporary. Today he broke that promise too and is doubling down on his failed policies. After five years of Pat Quinn’s failed leadership, we have record tax hikes, outrageously high unemployment, massive cuts in education, and there’s still a giant budget mess in Springfield. It’s now or never to save Illinois. We can balance the budget without more tax increases, if we create a growth economy, and restructure and reform our broken government. That’s what I’ll do as governor.”
* Back to the SJ-R…
In his speech, Quinn ruled out two other options that have been floated as ways for the state to collect more revenue. He said the state sales tax should not be extended to services.
“I won’t institute any new, unfair taxes on everyday services that working people rely on,” Quinn said. “It hurts working families the most to tax basic services like going to the Laundromat, like taking your child to day care, like visiting the barbershop, like taking your dog to the vet.”
Rauner has said he’s open to both the service and retirement income taxes.
* The Question: On balance, were the governor’s proposals yesterday a help or a hindrance to his reelection prospects? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.