Quinn: Pass the Tax Hike for the Children

Says state deficit will hit $13 billion

By Mary Ann Ahern
|  Wednesday, Mar 10, 2010  |  Updated 4:18 PM CDT
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Governor Pat Quinn must have learned a thing or two since delivering his meandering, long-winded State of the State address back in January because his budget address was succinct.

Illinois budget problems amount to a "crisis of epic proportion," Quinn said Wednesday, this time from prepared text (his last address to the legislature was read from scribbles on a legal pad.)

In order to alleviate the crisis, Quinn called for a 1-percentage-point increase in the personal income tax rate, which he labeled a "surcharge," in order to rescue the state’s ailing schools.

"I believe this 1 percent for education makes sense, and I think the people of Illinois will understand. We must invest in the future, even in these tough economic times," Quinn said. “This is urgent. We don't have six months. We don't have six weeks. I challenge the General Assembly to take immediate action to enact the 1 percent for education initiative."

Quinn didn't say how much money the increase would raise or what he means by a tax "surcharge," but he says the increase would be enough to avoid the $1.3 billion in education cuts that his budget calls for.

Reaction to the governor's call for a tax surcharge ran the gamut from great to awful.

State Senator James Meeks (D - 15th) calls Quinn's income tax for education "brilliant," while   Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-12th) says "it's dead on arrival."

Even if the hike does make it through the general assembly, it likely won't help the state with its other bills. 

Quinn said the deficit in the upcoming year will reach $13 billion.

Quinn says the state has to get rid of that deficit and strengthen state finances or pay the prices for years to come.

He's calling for more than $2 billion in budget cuts, including major cuts to education.

Quinn specifically rejects the idea of across-the-board cuts, which have been proposed by his Republican opponent for governor. He calls that a "chain saw" approach.

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