Passing A Tax Hike In January Just Got A Whole Lot Harder

Nov 30, 2016

Rep. David McSweeney, at the podium, is sponsor of a non-binding resolution opposing consideration of a tax increase during the lame duck session; he's flanked by a soon-to-be "lame duck," Democratic Rep. Jack Franks of Marengo.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Will Illinois legislators pass a tax increase before a new General Assembly takes over in mid January? A majority of Illinois state representatives say no.

There's no sign a vote on a tax hike is coming; Illinois' Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, and the Democrats who control the legislature remain divided on the path forward.

But the last time there was an income tax increase, legislators passed it during the so-called "lame duck" session. That's when lawmakers who either lost re-election or who retired are still around.

Republican Rep. David McSweeney of Barrington Hills says those "lame ducks" aren't accountable to voters.

"So I think it's time that everybody goes on record on where they stand on a tax increase," he said.

McSweeney's resolution easily passed.

It's not binding, but it does just what he said. Eighty-seven representatives are now on the record in opposition to a lame duck tax hike (only a dozen legislators left the door open to one by voting against the resolution), which would make one considerably harder to pass should the governor and leaders ever reach a budget deal.

Members of both parties accuse the other of gunning to increase the tax rate. Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan has begun using the phrase "the Rauner lame duck tax increase," while Republicans point to a statement Madigan made a year ago in which he suggested potential revenue options as evidence he wants the rate back up to 5-percent.