Speaker of the House Mike Madigan (D-Chicago), arguably the most powerful figure in state politics, gave mixed signals yesterday about Gov. Pat Quinn's cigarette tax increase of $1 a pack. Madigan said that he personally would support an increase, but doesn't think the tax could pass because Illinois House Republicans are against it.
Madigan's logic was not entirely clear. The Illinois House and Senate are both majority Democrat, and legislation needs a simple majority to pass.
The cigarette tax increase is supposed to generate $675 million in annual revenue for Illinois, and is part of Quinn's plan to save $2.7 billion on Medicaid. Madigan declined to give his thoughts on Quinn's Medicaid cuts, which include across the board cuts to health care providers as well as the reduction or outright elimination of 58 health care programs for the poor, disabled, and elderly.