Democrats in Springfield have approved a major tax increase. The Illinois House and Senate passed a bill to raise the income tax by 67 percent. Under the plan, corporate taxes would also go up.
Democrats spent days scrambling to retool the package. In the end, it was scaled back from an original 75 percent increase to 67 percent. The plan bumps the personal tax rate up from three percent to five percent. They agreed not to raise taxes on cigarettes. Lawmakers also did not vote on a proposal to give homeowners rebate checks.
House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie said raising taxes is the only answer to cutting the state's massive budget deficit, which had been predicted to reach $15 billion this year.
"The point of this tax increase is to pay our bills, and fix our structural deficit," Flynn Currie said.
Democratic Governor Pat Quinn is expected to sign the tax increase into law.
Meantime, Illinois Republicans are criticizing the plan. Not one member of the GOP signed on to the tax increases.
Republican State Sen. Brad Burzynski said legislators should have made cuts in spending.
"In my household when we talk about cutting spending, it means that we spend less this year then we spend next year," Burzynski said.
Members of the GOP also say it was wrong for Democrats to push the tax increase through the legislature just before a new General Assembly takes over.