Illinois Lawmakers’ ‘Grand Bargain’ Tax Hike Vote Delayed

Published March 2, 2017

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) blamed Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) for Cullerton’s derailment of scheduled votes on spending and taxation, accusing Rauner of “interjecting himself” into negotiations over a deal among legislative leaders to break a budget deadlock gripping the state government.

Legislative leaders and Rauner have been working since June 2016 to find a compromise on state government spending and taxation. In January, Rauner and Senate leaders agreed to a so-called “grand bargain” of 12 bills, including a state government budget and income tax hikes.

On March 1, Cullerton adjourned the legislative chamber for the night, instead of holding votes on seven of the 12 grand bargain bills.  

News reports indicate Cullerton believed Rauner was sabotaging the agreement by instructing Republican lawmakers to renege on the compromise by rejecting the bills.

One of the grand bargain bills would increase Illinois’ income and business taxes by about $5 billion a year.

Come Aboard or S.O.S.

Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, says Illinois’ chief problem is the state spends too much spending.

“If you cut spending, you signal to the rest of the country the world has changed, Illinois has changed, Illinois is not going down the path that Illinois has been going down, and, therefore, people are more likely to invest in your state, stay in your state, or be helpful, in terms of the economy,” Norquist said. “If you raise taxes and don’t reform government, you’ve just told everybody, ‘There is no future here. This ship is sinking.'”

Kayla Weems, manager of media relations for the Illinois Policy Institute, says Illinois is dying and more taxes will only accelerate the process.

“Illinoisans are struggling under one of the worst-recovering economies in the region, the highest tax burden in the Midwest, and stagnant job growth,” Weems said. “There are four metro areas in Illinois that are already in recession. The last thing the people of Illinois need is a tax increase of any kind.”

Fleeing for Shelter

Weems says people are fleeing Illinois in droves.

“Data suggest high taxes are driving Illinoisans out of the state,” Weems said. “Polling from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute lists Illinois’ high taxes as the primary reason working-age adults want to leave Illinois, with inclement weather a distant second. The Land of Lincoln has the worst out-migration rate in the Midwest, and from July 2015 to July 2016, [it] lost over 114,000 residents on net to other states.

“Simply put, residents don’t want to pay Illinois’ high taxes anymore,” Weems said.