With House Speaker Michael Madigan short the 60 votes needed to extend the temporary income tax hike in his chamber, the Chicago Democrat is now calling on lawmakers to start work on an alternative budget proposal.
“Obviously, it’s a very difficult vote in a difficult time,” Madigan said while speaking with reporters Wednesday.
Madigan said 34 out of the 71 House Democratic members are in favor of extending the 2011 temporary income tax increase, which is scheduled to rollback on January 1 from its current 5 percent to 3.75 percent. The corporate income tax rate will also drop from 7 percent to 5.25 percent.
“There were 34 members of the caucus voting yes, a little over 30 voting no," Madigan noted. "In light of that, I’ve instructed the appropriations chairs to reconvene the working groups on the budget. We plan to invite the Republican members of the House to join the working group and work with Senate Democrats. And our plan and our goal is to work toward the preparation of an alternative budget to the one that was adopted by the House a few days ago."
Expiration of the higher income tax rates would mean a $4 billion loss in revenue for the state's 2015 fiscal year budget.
Gov. Pat Quinn has recommended a budget that calls for the income tax hike to remain in place.
Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson told the Chicago Sun-Times that a 2015 fiscal blueprint that “includes radical cuts ... would harm schools, students and our most vulnerable residents. That’s why it’s not recommended."
“The governor is working very hard and will continue working to pass a responsible budget that properly funds education, pays down the bills and secures the state’s long-term financial future,” she said.
While speaking with reporters, Madigan said he still plans to advocate for the governor's recommended budget.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’m going to continue to work for the governor’s proposal. I presume the governor’s going to continue to work for his proposal,” the House speaker said. “However, the clock is running, and we’re getting closer to the end of the month.”
The current legislative session ends May 31.
Senate President John Cullerton said the Senate is waiting to see what the House does before it takes up the income tax extension.
“It’s always been up to the House to go first because they had a closer — tougher — effort,” Cullerton told the newspaper. “We have more Democrats here and we have more support. We may have some Republicans even supporting it here. So we can pass it here, we believe. But if the House doesn’t then we can’t do it. So then we have to go ahead and pass a budget without the money that comes in from the income tax.”