Facing a noon deadline before new lawmakers are sworn in, Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly voted Wednesday to temporarily raise the state income tax by a whopping 66%.
Illinois is not alone in facing huge budget problems, although this is believed to be the largest percentage increase in income tax of any state battling budget gaps.
While that 66% figure sounds terribly imposing, it actually increases the personal income tax from 3% to 5%. It is still the lowest in the region.
Gov. Pat Quinn said he supports the plan, noting that the state's budget gap could climb to as high as $15 billion of actions are not taken.
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The new legislature that came in at noon cuts into the Democratic majority. No Republicans voted for the tax increase.
"They're on the sidelines. They don't want to get on the field of play," House Speaker Michael Madigan said. "I'm happy that the day has ended."
Republicans think it is the wrong way to go.
"We're saying to the people of Illinois, 'For eight years we've overspent, now we're going to make it your problem,'" said Rep. Roger Eddy. "We're making up for our mistakes on your back."
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Corporate taxes will also go up as part of the plan. The new taxes will raise about $6.8 billion a year.