With little support among House Democrats to extend the temporary income tax increase, House Speaker Michael Madigan has ordered budget negotiators to prepare a new spending plan that will contain steep cuts to state programs.
Madigan emerged from a brief private meeting with House Democrats on Wednesday to say two days of intense lobbying of members by himself, Gov. Pat Quinn and interest groups with a stake in keeping the tax hike in place failed to win over members.
“Today we took a vote in the House Democratic caucus,” Madigan said. “There were 34 members of the caucus voting ‘yes.’ There were a little over 30 voting ‘no.’” […]
In light of that, Madigan said he’s instructed appropriations committees to begin preparing spending plans based on the tax expiring. Various estimates have said the state stands to lose $1.6 billion to $2 billion in revenue next year, mostly as a result of the tax expiring.
The specifics of those cuts will roll out ahead of the legislature’s May 31 adjournment. The idea is to pressure recalcitrant Democrats by showing them what they’ll be giving up if they don’t vote to make permanent what was billed as a temporary income-tax increase in 2011. That took the state income tax rate from 3 percent to 5 percent, but it is scheduled to fall back to 3.75 percent in January if lawmakers don’t act, greatly reducing the amount of taxpayer money flowing into state coffers.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’m going to continue to work for the governor’s proposal,” Madigan said. “I presume the governor is going to continue to work for the proposal. However, the clock is running, and we’re getting close to the end of the month.”
The 34 votes in support of the governor’s tax hike proposal is far short of the 50-something votes the Quinn administration was projecting it had in hand.
Subscribers know more about that last line.
Madigan also appeared to throw cold water on the idea of a capital construction program that could be used to leverage some Democratic fence-sitters with the offer of goodies to hand out to constituents before the Nov. 4 election.
“There’s no movement. There’s a lot of discussion,” the speaker said. “In my discussions with members, some of those members talked about capital projects, but I didn’t.” […]
[Senate President John Cullerton] appeared to support Madigan’s logic in presenting his members with a far more austere budget.
“I haven’t talked to the speaker yet, so I’m not sure what other alternatives he has. But assuming he doesn’t have the votes to extend the income tax, then you have to do a budget. You can’t do parts of the budget for six months. You can’t hire teachers for six months, for example,” he said.
Meanwhile, other efforts to garner support for the tax increase are ongoing.
Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, proposed legislation Wednesday to create a capital construction program for transportation projects in members’ districts. It would be paid for with the state’s sales tax on gasoline, but Nekritz said it only would be possible if the tax hike is approved so money from gas taxes doesn’t have to be used elsewhere. […]
The plan would divert the state’s share of money from the 6.25 percent of sales tax on motor fuels from the general revenue fund to a newly created Transportation Reform Fund. Eighty percent of that money would be used for highway maintenance, construction and bridge repair, congestion relief and construction of aviation facilities; 20 percent would be used for rail and mass transit.
Sue Hofer, spokeswoman for the state Department of Revenue, says gas sales tax generates about $780 million a year for schools, social services and public safety.
* Raw audio of MJM’s presser from WUIS…