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Death and Taxes

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Death and Taxes

Now that the General Assembly has banned the death penalty and raised the state income tax, the only death warrant Gov. Pat Quinn will be able to sign is for his own political career -- his, and numerous other Democrats who voted for a 5 percent state income tax.

Illinois has been ruled by the Democratic Party for eight years -- and will continue to be so for the next two years. That’s a record for one-party rule in modern Illinois history, and now we’re finding out why. The Democrats have just validated all their opponents’ worst stereotypes: they spent the state into insolvency, then raised taxes to deal with their own profligacy.

The bill passed this morning says that 1.25 points of the increase will expire after four years. House Minority Leader Tom Cross said that’s “clearly false.” He’s right. If the Democrats are still in charge four years from now, they’ll declare a “fiscal emergency” requiring an extension of the 5 percent tax rate.

The argument for divided government is that Republicans stop Democrats from overspending, and Democrats stop Republicans from cutting taxes so deeply the government can’t operate. But for eight years, the Democrats have been driving with no brakes. Illinois wanted a Republican governor last year, we really did. But we couldn’t accept the primitive opinions of the Bradysaurus. So now we’ll have to pay for that.

The only good thing about this tax increase is that we’re going to see it on our tax returns in the winter of 2012 -- right before the next primary election. The Democrats will be drawing the new election map, and they’ll try to design enough districts where it’s impossible to lose, but the desire for change may be more powerful than their computerized voter-analysis software. With the death penalty ban, civil unions and higher income taxes, we have all the liberal reforms we need for awhile. There’s nothing more for a Democratic majority to do.

After the vote, reporters cornered Quinn in a Capitol hallway. He didn’t want to talk to them.

“What about your promise that you’d only sign a 1 percent tax increase?” one asked.

“We’ll talk about it all tomorrow,” said Quinn, who is scheduled to hold a press conference at 10:30 a.m.

“It used to be, you couldn’t get between Pat Quinn and a camera,” one wag said, as Quinn stepped into an elevator.

Quinn has to know he was lucky to win the last November’s election, and won’t be getting another term after this. He has nothing to lose, politically. But his fellow Democrats -- including House Speaker Michael Madigan -- do.

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