* House Speaker Madigan is probably correct. The November election will almost surely turn out to be a referendum on whether to keep the income tax rate at 5 percent or roll it back…
Speaker Michael Madigan acknowledged the budget proposal would leave unfinished business and vowed to spend the summer and fall working to get the income tax hike made permanent to provide more money to run state government. The approach also ensures the governor’s race will continue to be framed up by opposite positions on a tax hike Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner have staked out.
“My expectation is that this issue will be taken into the general election and I think the governor will be supportive of an extension of the income tax increase through the general election,” Madigan said. “My expectation is that Mr. Rauner will be against. So you’ll have a clear line of division going into the election. And people can make their choice.”
Rauner will point to things like Senate President John Cullerton’s prediction that taxes will have to rise after the election and maybe even tell voters that there’s already a “secret plan” to do just that. Quinn will have to campaign on a platform of avoiding painful cuts by keeping taxes at 5 percent.
* For his part, Madigan is trying to remain coy…
Asked if he also believes a tax increase will be needed later in the budget year, Madigan said “not necessarily.”
“I plan to work into the summer on the budget and when we get into the fall and into January I’ll assess the situation at the time,” he said.
That gives cover to some of his more politically vulnerable members.
* I haven’t received anything official from Bruce Rauner’s campaign since last Friday, May 23rd, when he sent an e-mail blast to supporters…
This week, we made a series of phone calls to voters in key legislative districts encouraging voters to stand against the Quinn-Madigan tax hike.
Quinn pledged to the people of Illinois the tax hike would be temporary and now he’s breaking his word. But our calls worked. When we stand on principle we can beat the Quinn-Madigan machine.
* The next day, Rauner attended the annual Livingston County Republicans Lincoln-Reagan Dinner at the Elks Lodge in Pontiac…
“Our plan is to roll that income tax back – all the way back to 3 percent,” said Rauner. “He said he was going to have that income tax hike be temporary and now he’s flipped-flopped to make it permanent.”
* But Eric Zorn added his voice to those who are clamoring for some specific answers…
Oh, but the plans are coming, Rauner said, as the conversation began to wrap up. “We’ll have a pension plan, an education plan, a transportation plan.”
Pearson’s follow-up was on point: “How can anyone believe this after hearing it month after month after month?”
Well, they can believe it if Rauner stops playing the coy, condescending critic and becomes an active participant in this week’s negotiations.
Tell us: Where would a Gov. Bruce Rauner find the estimated necessary $4 billion in spending cuts, on a full-year basis, that will be needed if the tax hike expires, while also increasing support for education? What constitutional remedies do you have for the pension crisis?