During a lame duck session two years ago, the Illinois General Assembly passed a 67 percent income tax increase on all Illinois families. When the bill was filed in early 2011, almost no one knew of its existence.
I was the House staffer on revenue at the time, and I only heard about it at 6 a.m. the morning after the bill was filed.
Two years later, the table was set perfectly for Democrats to make this income tax increase permanent. The General Assembly was again filled with lame ducks, Democrats were still struggling with budgetary problems, and the governor’s race is set to kick off soon. It would be politically advantageous for Gov. Pat Quinn to have this issue off the table. But the bill didn’t get introduced.
So, what was the difference this time? The bill received plenty of attention and the Illinois Policy Institute led this charge.
Journalist in Residence Scott Reeder was on the record with the Senate President, who said he would not vote to make the income tax increase permanent. We put up Billboards on I-55 to inform legislators and citizens alike that an income tax increase was looming. Director of Media Relations Diana Rickert successfully pitched editorials to the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. We met with legislators, we wrote blogs and we made plenty of phone calls.
We made another income tax increase toxic and the Democrat leadership was not able to file and pass a bill without anyone noticing.
Despite constant denials, making the income tax increase permanent was brought up in the governor’s office. Sources have told Capitol Fax that, “a recent internal survey found Gov. Pat Quinn had earlier hoped to put the idea of making the temporary income tax permanent onto the table during the lame duck session, but he was roundly rebuffed.”
Sometimes huge issues die quietly in Springfield, and that is what happened with the income tax increase this year. When this happens, its typically because groups have put together a very successful campaign.
This time around, we were ready. This time around, the Institute stood up and won for taxpayers.