IL Gov. Pat Quinn is officially obsessed with income tax increases. In 2009, he infamously proposed a 50 percent hike in the personal income tax, from a flat 3 percent to a flat 4.5 percent. Voters opposed the plan 55-to-25 and it failed.
Misreading the writing on the wall, the governor came back with a smaller 33 percent income tax hike this year, assuming taxpayers would rejoice at $1 billion in higher taxes rather than $1.5 billion. He was wrong, and the Second Annual Pat Quinn Income Tax Hike Proposal (PQITHP) went nowhere. Instead, he took the power ceded to him by the do-nothing Democratic legislature and proceeded to lie about budget cuts and ignore pension obligations. The talk of income tax increases dissipated.
Until his budget director spilled the beans about the Third Annual PQITHP. And this time it's bigger than ever. From Bloomberg:
Lawmakers will likely increase the personal tax to 5 percent from 3 percent, generating $6 billion of new revenue, the budget director, David Vaught, said in an interview. The legislature failed to address the deficit this year because of the pending November election, he said.
“We’re going to pass a tax increase in January,” Vaught said. “We expect it is going to be substantial.”
Vaught pegged the revenue number at $6 billion, an astounding blow to an economy that has experienced sustained double-digit unemployment. Perhaps more importantly, it continues the narrative that Illinois Democrats continue to put politics above governing. After resounding rejections of his first two tax increases, Quinn decided to keep the mother of all tax hikes secret until after the election.
Taxpayers should be thankful for two things. First, they should send a fruit basket and a thank you card to David Vaught, who blew the lid off the governor's diabolical plan. If voters didn't like the first two tax proposals, they certainly don't care for a third to be implemented in secret. Second, Quinn probably won't get a chance to pursue his plan further. The latest Rasmussen poll has Taxpayer Protection Pledge signer Bill Brady up seven points over Quinn. The governor's approve/disapprove rating is a dismal 37/61.
Quinn scrambled to silence Vaught, but the damage is likely done. Illinoisans know their governor for what he is: A tax-loving liberal with no interest in making the difficult decisions necessary to confront a $13 billion overspending problem and unfunded pension system. He's overseen a perpetually-falling credit rating, as Fitch notes a "continuing unwillingness of the state of Illinois to take action to address its significant budgetary problems."
Illinois is now Greece. Its governor would rather lie his way to reelection and raise taxes than propose a single serious solution to the problem.