Republicans warn of tax increase, Democrats say it’s not on the agenda

By Mike Miletich

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois House Republicans want residents to tell their lawmakers to vote against a possible tax hike during the upcoming lame-duck session. The Pritzker administration warned a tax increase could be on the horizon to make up lost revenue.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) called the current budget “one of the most reckless” financial plans in decades. Democrats significantly relied upon the graduated income tax plan passing in November and borrowing from the federal government. With voters rejecting the progressive tax plan, Pritzker already announced cuts within state departments. The administration also recently mentioned negotiations with AFSCME and other state employee unions for possible furlough days and personnel changes.

Durkin feels residents shouldn’t have to pick up the rest of the bill.

“Everyone in the public sector, private sector, and at homes had to make adjustments based on the lack of revenue or the loss of revenue. The only outlier on that has been state government of Illinois,” Durkin said Monday.

Durkin says Pritzker and Speaker Mike Madigan should “own the budget problems” since they created it. Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) says Democrats shouldn’t let Madigan slide in a tax increase during the lame-duck session. The Chicago Democrat previously passed a tax hike plan during the lame-duck period in 2011.

“No longer is it appropriate that we simply go back to increase to fill budget deficits that exist in the first place, but we hope will be magically taken care of by some outside intervention,” Demmer said.

He says the administration should tell lawmakers and the public about financial changes they plan to make. Demmer also stressed Pritzker can’t act alone on the budget as he did with COVID-19 mitigations throughout the pandemic.

“It’s not happening.”

Pritzker Press Secretary Jordan Abudayyeh Republicans frequently fought against the “Fair Tax” to protect millionaires and billionaires. Abudayyeh said the governor’s plan was the best solution to balance the state’s budget.

“The Governor has presented more than $700 million in budget cuts, yet Republicans have offered no solutions to the fiscal challenges facing the state,” Abudayyeh stated. “It’s going to take a lot more than empty rhetoric to balance the budget and the Governor looks forward to hearing realistic ideas from Republicans, so the state can balance the budget in a bipartisan fashion.”

Senate President Don Harmon’s spokesman told the Capitol Bureau a tax hike isn’t in the works.

“The only people talking about raising taxes are Republicans. It’s not happening,” John Patterson stated.

Speaker Madigan previously told caucus members he would establish a budget advisory group to review changes.

“Among the difficult decisions ahead will be finding a balance between cost savings and new revenues,” Madigan wrote. “I hope our Republican colleagues choose to be willing participants instead of partisan obstructionists and come prepared to offer real proposals that are void of political theatre.”

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