Following a comment Wednesday by budget director David Vaught, Gov. Pat Quinn went into damage control during a press conference in Chicago yesterday afternoon. The Democrat went so far as to threaten a veto of any income tax increase larger than the 1 percent "education surcharge" he's been fighting to pass since March. While his criticisms of Bill Brady were robust, Quinn clearly seemed like a nervous candidate caught on the defensive.
With the gubernatorial election just months away, the press coverage understandably focused on the politics of the Vaught-Quinn rift. We'd rather analyze the substance of Quinn's decision. If the governor is serious about paying off the $6 billion in backlogged state appropriations owed to providers "by the end of the year, if not sooner," this increase just won't cut it; a 1 point jump would generate less than $4 billion next year and that money won't reach the state's coffers overnight. What's worse, by increasing the tax rate without increasing protections for low-income taxpayers, he actually might make Illinois' ludicrously unfair tax system less progressive.