SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (KMOX/IRN/AP) – Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn knows he has his work cut out for him.
But, he remains optimistic that he can convince enough of his fellow Democrats to extend the 5 percent personal income tax beyond this year to avoid what he says would be “savage” budget cuts.
The tax rate is scheduled to drop from 5 percent to 3.75 percent for individuals in January. That would reduce state revenue next year by about $1.8 billion.
Quinn, who’s in the midst of his own re-election bid, has said the drop in revenue would prompt massive cuts to areas such as education and social services. He’s pushing for a $38 billion budget that would increase funding for education and other areas but relies on lawmakers making the tax increase permanent.
He emerged from a roughly three-hour meeting with lawmakers Monday still well short of the votes he needs for approval.
The governor’s quoting the Bible to help make his case.
“There’s a passage in Proverbs that says, ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish,'” Quinn says. “We don’t intend to perish in Illinois. We have great vision. We want great schools.”
His task is to convince at least 60 of his fellow Democrats to extend the temporary tax before May 31, after which he’ll need 60 percent approval rather than a simple majority.
Quinn has already convinced House Speaker Mike Madigan, who was asked about reports that the higher tax rate is chasing people out of Illinois.
“People are leaving because they’re looking at the prospect of Rauner as the Governor,” he says.
Quinn’s Republican opponent, businessman Bruce Rauner, said the budget process demonstrated a “lack of leadership.” Rauner opposes the tax increase but hasn’t outlined how he would balance a budget without it.
Madigan said after Monday’s meeting they remained “significantly away” from the 60 votes, with opposition from all sectors of his caucus.
He described Quinn as being “very animated” in some of the discussions, “because at times he wasn’t hearing what he wanted to hear.” Madigan said he also would keep working the vote.
“We’re going to continue to talk to our members about the tax and the consequences of not adopting the governor’s budget,” the Chicago Democrat said.
Regardless, the road ahead is a bumpy one, as every House Republican is dead-set against the extension.
The measure is expected to have enough votes to pass in the Senate, where Democrats also have a supermajority.
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