Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn delighted with a whopping 66% income tax hike; you'll never guess his party
If you were thinking of moving to Illinois, hold off until you read this. It's one of those quintessentially Illinois political stories that prompt laughter -- unless you live there.
The newly elected Gov. Pat Quinn (shown above with the pleased grin) is so happy this morning. Why? Because his obedient state Legislature just voted an income tax increase on those dumb saps who elected him in November.
Wait for it: The income tax increase is 66% !! And even that additional $6.8 billion sucked out of the state's private economy isn't anywhere near enough to cover the state's spending hole that could be as large as $15 billion.
Quinn says this tax measure, which will cost a family of four earning $50,000 around $1,000 more annually, was necessary because his state government needs the ....
You'll notice too that this massive tax hike didn't happen before the Nov. 2 balloting when Quinn was successfully seeking his own election after inheriting the governor's job from the impeached Rod Blagojevich.
Here's how the entrenched Illinois Democrats accomplished this revenue feat even during a recession: They passed the bill during a lame-duck session in the state Assembly by the barest legal minimum, 60-57. In the Illinois Senate, where Barack Obama used to vote Present, they passed the revenue boost 30-29.
And the Democratic leaders did this at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. Why does this matter?
Because about 600 minutes later the newly elected Assembly and Senate took their seats with sufficiently smaller Democratic majorities that would have prevented passage.
So they got the dying votes of seven ousted Democrats who won't have to face voters again anyway. Worked perfectly by Illinois political standards.
Quinn calls the four-year tax increase "temporary," sort of like the Cubs' World Series drought. House Republican Minority Leader Tom Cross dubs the temporary gambit "a cruel hoax."
Quinn played down any concern about job losses from tax hikes, the same concern that fueled the recent tax-cut debate in Washington's lame-duck session that opted to avoid tax hikes. However, with Illinois already holding 48th place nationally in job creation, governors of surrounding states were licking their chops over luring businesses fleeing the Land of Lincoln.
Three of the five states adjoining Illinois are governed now by Republicans: Wisconsin's Scott Walker, Indiana's Mitch Daniels and Iowa's Terry Branstad. Daniels and Walker have already been on Chicago media inviting entrepreneurs to escape to their states, with Walker even talking about a possible two-year tax-free holiday.
Now, here's the whipped cream on the delicious Illinois political cake. Perhaps you remember two years ago when the same Illinois legislative bodies were voting to oust Blagojevich over his federal corruption charges, including allegedly holding an auction to fill Obama's vacant U.S. Senate seat.
In his useless denials of wrongdoing to a joint session in 2009, Blagojevich warned Illinois citizens that one reason legislators really wanted him gone was because he so adamantly opposed tax hikes. He predicted that without him, the Assembly and Senate with Quinn would really sock it to taxpayers.
Well, at least Blago told the truth one time.
-- Andrew Malcolm
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Photos: Seth Perlman / Associated Press (Delighted Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn celebrates 66% tax hike on Illinois workers; former Gov. Blagojevich).