Illinois Democrats closing in on tax hike deal

January 6, 2011

Illinois' top Democrats are scheduled to meet Thursday morning to solidify plans for an income tax hike. The increase could raise the rate by up to two percentage points, from three percent to five percent, to help ease Illinois' massive budget deficit, which is projected to reach $15 billion by the next fiscal year.

Governor Pat Quinn negotiated with House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton - all Democrats - for hours Wednesday about the increase. The hike had been a staple policy point of Quinn's 2010 campaign.

Cullerton said Wednesday they're getting close to a framework. 

"This is all premised on the fact that there will be no spending increases, [a] moratorium on new programs and what we're trying to avoid is deficit spending. That's really what the fight's about," Cullerton said.

He said the upper threshold of an increase would raise the income tax rate by 66 percent, though he added it will be coupled with property tax relief.  

Meanwhile, Speaker Madigan accused the GOP of standing on the sidelines during negotiations. Republicans said Democrats are acting too little, too late to curb state spending.