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Off the rails?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

* Trouble ahead

Despite intensive lobbying by Gov. Pat Quinn, Illinois lawmakers remained unwilling Friday to a 50 percent state income tax increase.

The Illinois House abruptly ended its work day Friday afternoon without voting on the income tax hike, as Quinn had expected earlier in the day.

“There’s not widespread support, there has not been widespread support and there continues not to be widespread support for a tax increase,” said Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago. “He’s (Quinn) asked to defer that for the past several days, and that continues.”

A House committee is scheduled to consider a tax hike bill this morning, although there is no indication when, or if, the bill will get a vote in the full House.

* Trouble behind

House members said it was increasingly possible that lawmakers would approve what money is available and then adjourn, leaving state agencies to limp along without a complete budget.

“We’ll run out of money. That’s the truth,” warned Rep. Linda Chapa Lavia, an Aurora Democrat who chairs one of the House’s appropriations committees. “We’re going to hit a day of reckoning where there’s not going to be any more money to pay the employees of the state.”

* And you know that notion just crossed my mind

Earlier Friday, Quinn had predicted a House vote on a two-year hike in the income tax, increasing the rate from 3 percent to 4.5 percent. But Republicans opposed the plan, a cornerstone of Quinn’s 2009-’10 budget.

And only 39 House Democrats expressed support for the temporary tax plan in a closed-door caucus, leaving it 21 votes shy of the 60-vote threshold it needs.

“We are hopefully optimistic we will turn the corner,” Quinn spokesman Bob Reed said late Friday.

* Trouble with you is the trouble with me…

Rep. Art Turner (D-Chicago), a top Madigan lieutenant, summed it up: “We’re looking for courage. We’re close. We’ve got it spelled C-O-U-R, but we’re looking for the rest of it.”

* Got two good eyes but you still don’t see..

Senate Democrats have predicted a tax increase would have an easier time in their chamber and on Friday an even bigger tax plan emerged, courtesy of Sen. James Meeks (D-Chicago).

The proposal — which could raise upward of $6 billion — would increase the income tax by 67 percent and expand the sales tax on services such as dry cleaning, video rental, dating services and carpet cleaning. The theory is that a larger tax bite would mean fewer cuts.

A spokesman for Quinn would not comment on Meeks’ proposal. Earlier in the day, Quinn signaled his willingness to support a temporary version of his own tax-increase proposal, calling Friday “D-Day” for approving a budget.

* Come ’round the bend, you know it’s the end

Carol Stream Republican state Rep. Randy Ramey said Republicans are prepared to wait for a seat at the bargaining table and he’d be fine with a government shutdown when the current budget runs out at the end of June.

“Kentucky shut it down for one day, got it solved. Pennsylvania shut it down for one day, got it solved,” Ramey said. “So I think there’s enough pressure out there that we can then sit down and negotiate and get things accomplished.”

* The fireman screams and the engine just gleams

Developments are happening quickly. What appears to be the end game now could be vastly different from what actually happens when it’s all said and done.

* Related…

* Cigarette tax hike lacks support in House: Tax and fee increases already approved by Illinois lawmakers may thwart a push to raise the tax on cigarettes. State Rep. Karen Yarbrough, who is sponsoring the legislation in the House, said there is not enough support yet to approve the tax increase. But she added legislators may change their mind by Sunday, the last scheduled day of the spring legislative session.

* Teachers unions monitoring “two-tier” pension discussion

* Homewood resident takes part in strike at state Capitol to protest Quinn’s budget

* Ill. hunger strike sends one to hospital

* Video poker slammed as worst of all possible options

* Illinois may bet on poker

* Too many moving parts: Across the rotunda, Sen. John Sullivan, a downstate Democrat, said as the day progressed, it appeared more likely that the legislature would resort to a budget based solely on revenues available. But he wasn’t happy about it. “If we go past the 31st without a full budget being passed, all we’ve done is put off the inevitable,” he said. “We’re going to have to come back at some time and face reality.”

* Congressman to Ask Feds for Extra Stimulus Oversight

* Unfiltered: Congressman Mark Kirk Blasts State’s Ability to Monitor Federal Funds

* State Audit Raises Questions About IL’s Ability to Monitor Funds

* Unfiltered: DCEO Says It’s Prepared for Additional Responsibility

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Anonymous Coward - Saturday, May 30, 09 @ 11:35 am:

    Well done…

    Do you think “this old engine makes it on time” today?

  2. - A Naughty Moose - Saturday, May 30, 09 @ 11:38 am:

    I’d say it’s more like, “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am … “

  3. - wordslinger - Saturday, May 30, 09 @ 11:40 am:

    If you depend on state services, “they’re on the wrong track and headed for you.”

  4. - sangamoGOP - Saturday, May 30, 09 @ 11:46 am:

    Gosh, if only the dems controlled every office and both chambers and had the white house, they would make Illinois great again. Oh, wait…

  5. - Boxing Cross - Saturday, May 30, 09 @ 12:08 pm:

    Latest to join this special end of session contest are the Big Jims Thompson and Edgar who are reminding HGOPs that they got a lot of Dem help with their tax hikes. Calls are having some impact. Even Slick Skip in a panic

  6. - Boxing Cross - Saturday, May 30, 09 @ 12:14 pm:

    Latest to join Boxing Cross, a special end of session contest, are the Big Jims (Thompson and Edgar) who are reminding HGOPs that they got a lot of Dem help with their tax hikes. Calls are having some impact. Even Slick Skip in a panic
    They are trying to determine how they wanted to give Blaggo a $34 billion blank check and voted for neighborhood slots, but don’t care about the budget.

  7. - Easy - Saturday, May 30, 09 @ 12:26 pm:

    update to BC:
    no GOPer is going to panic about voting for Chicago Dem tax increase. Thanks for the concern, why don’t you focus on your side of the aisle and try to get your taxeaters to cowboy up.

  8. - Cassandra - Saturday, May 30, 09 @ 12:35 pm:

    Alas, as currently proposed, especially without the increase in the exemption, the income tax increase amounts to a tax on the middle class to maintain services to the poor. The wealthy, including many if not most legislators, will barely feel the increase. The middle class will. For many of us, there will be less money to save for our (pension-free) retirements, less money to go to the doctor, less money to save for college (we certainly won’t have enough clout to get our kids into state universities). It’s fine to take care of your poor neighbor, but charity begins at home. Add to that, the high likelihood they a substantial chunk of the monies generated by a tax increase will stray off into waste and corruption and you have yet another gotcha situation…gotcha, middle class. We are eternal chumps.

  9. - DuPage Dave - Saturday, May 30, 09 @ 1:15 pm:

    Great job, Rich, but the question is: Who is the Lady in Red?

  10. - ConfusedBoxingParade - Saturday, May 30, 09 @ 1:57 pm:

    Easy has a good point. Hard to get worked up over the Madigan/Quinn tax increase when one can barely deliver half his caucus ad the other is MIA.

    Oh, BTW, Lite Guv, the Auditor General says your folks at DeCay-O can’t keep track of grant money, which could be really bad with all that porkulus dough coming in. You had better fumigate whomever was running that place under Blago.

    What? He’s not there any more? Excellent. He’s where? Governor’s Office-the COO and porkulus overlord? Amazing.

  11. - envelop - Saturday, May 30, 09 @ 2:18 pm:

    where are all the insightful, hip, too clever by half comments, poems, and jingles? so what if its saturday…politics matters just as much on saturday as Tuesday (maybe more…watch out for those conference committe reports!). makes me wonder who the capitol fax “regulars” really are…state employess just sitting at their desks burning up state time from 8:30 to 5 M-F????? 3 loud cheers for Hamos et al for standing up to tyranny…

  12. - Louis Howe - Saturday, May 30, 09 @ 2:19 pm:

    “Where are we going to get Republican Votes?” to pass a tax increase, to fund a budget, for a state government COMPLETELY controlled by democrats is asking for a FOOLS ERRAND!!! Democrats have less than 48 hrs to act like adults and begin managing the government voters have entrusted to democratic majorities to manage.

  13. - dave - Saturday, May 30, 09 @ 2:43 pm:

    Very well done Rich…

    Now if you could only convince legislators to raise taxes as well as you use song lyrics. :)

  14. - Pot calling kettle - Saturday, May 30, 09 @ 3:15 pm:

    To those who feel that the state needs to “live within its means” and that the state run by Democrats for Democrats.

    First, that state has not been living within its means for many years. Republicans and Democrats have both borrowed from the pension funds and put off payments in order to make ends “meet” at the end of the fiscal year when, in truth, they did not. Both Parties are responsible for where we are and both need to come to the table and fix the problem by voting for more revenue, much of which should go to pay off years of borrowing.

    Second, the state employs and serves all residents of the state of Illinois. I haven’t seen Republicans staying off of the roads and out of the park or refusing to call the police or go to court or home schooling and home colleging their children in large numbers or getting off medicare and medicade. Everyone expects these serice to continue pretty much as is.

    A Repubican State Senator recently told me he was opposed to the income tax increase, but felt the state could save $1 billion by moving medicare and medicade to an HMO-style system… I thought about asking him over how many years this money would be saved, and how he proposed to take care of the other $10 billion or so, but, I figured, why waste my time.

    The bottom line is that the state has been living beyond its mean for so long that even if we closed down the whole operation, it would take years to pay off the debt. Anyone who denies that is lying to themselves and everyone around them.

    A tax increase has been needed since the day after the last one took effect, and the longer we wait, the bigger the final bill is going to be. I’m ready to pay up now.

    REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATORS: Get it done! Nobody said it would be easy. Now is the time to show you are real leaders and willing to acknowledge reality. Cut if you feel the need for that fig leaf, but vote for the revenue that will be necessary to cover the very large deficit that will still remain. If you are not willing to solve the primary problem that faces our state, please resign and let your seat go to someone who is willing to do the job.

  15. - Princess - Saturday, May 30, 09 @ 3:48 pm:

    –” makes me wonder who the capitol fax “regulars” really are…state employess just sitting at their desks burning up state time from 8:30 to 5 M-F????? “–

    Ho-hum. Or maybe just sitting here quietly waiting for the a-g-e to find it’s way in.

  16. - Capitol View - Saturday, May 30, 09 @ 8:12 pm:

    economic hard times means more demands for state employment services. More frustrated out of work heads of households means more alcohol abuse, more domestic violence, and abuse of kids. More homelessness. It is state government that intercedes in all of these family crises. It is a reality that as times get bad and state revenues go down, the need/demand for state services go up.

    If we ever get our finances straightened out, I would like to see a “rainy day fund” to help in these low revenue, high demand periods in the future. But for now, we have a swamp to drain and the anti-tax alligators are snapping…

    Art Turner has it right. All we need is some political courage. Why run for office if not to make the tough decisions???

  17. - Pot calling kettle - Saturday, May 30, 09 @ 9:05 pm:


    Please read my post again and pay more attention to the facts of the state’s fiscal situation. The state is not just broke, it is deeply in debt. As a responsible adult & citizen, I insist that the state lawmakers step up and do the responsible thing. Since I use the roads, schools, and parks and feel that medical care for the elderly and poor is something that we as a society should pay for (as we have for many years), I am willing to back that up. I do not wish to pass on the debts of our excess to our children.

    I have been consistent on this blog in my call for fiscal responsibility, which requires a tax increase, no matter how you choose to slice the state budget.

    If you truly feel no tax increase is necessary, please visit, make your cuts (they need to add up to somewhere around $10-12 billion) and return to the blog with the link your proposal.

    Otherwise, in the words of Rich, “Bite me.”

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