Illinois gov. breaks campaign promise, hits taxpayers with 67 percent increase

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The Illinois legislature, rushing to act before a group of Democratic lame-duck lawmakers left office on Wednesday, pushed through a massive tax hike hitting individuals and businesses alike. The move is intended to partially offset the $15 billion budget deficit the state is facing this year.

Gov. Pat Quinn was re-elected in November after vowing to raise taxes by no more than 33 percent.

The final vote on the measure occurred on Wednesday at 1 a.m., the same day the new General Assembly was to be seated. Although both chambers of the legislature will still be controlled by Democrats, a number of seats lost to Republicans would have made it more difficult to pass the measure.

The tax package worked out by Democrat Gov. Pat Quinn and the Democratic majority in the House and Senate means that workers will see an increase in personal income taxes from 3 percent to 5 percent for four years, an increase of 67 percent, at which time the rate will fall to 4 percent. A family of four earning $50,000 will pay $1,000 more in state taxes.

Corporate taxes would also rise, from 4.8 percent to 7 percent, an increase of 46 percent. Business interests said that the measure would have the effect of discouraging new businesses from setting up in the state, and motivating others to leave.

Critics said that the tax increase is the largest ever imposed by any state, and a precursor of what is expected to occur in other parts of the nation.

The vote on the measure was passed along party lines, with the bare minimum of votes received in the House.  No Republicans voted for the measure there or in the Senate, saying that any tax increases should have been made only after the state made more progress on cutting costs.   They argued that instead of any requirement to cut costs, the measure simply put a cap on annual increases in the state budget to 2 percent.

Republicans blamed the state’s dire financial condition on Democrats, since both legislative chambers have been controlled by Democrats since 2003, as well as the governor’s office.

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